How to Fix Your Pinchy Ankle

Technical terms for a minute: 

osteokinematic motion at the ankle = flexion / extension

arthrokinematic motion at the ankle = glide/slide In other words, all joints go through osteo and arthrokinematic motions.

With dorsiflexion, there is also a glide/slide, or the distal end of the tibia would smash into the top of the talus Most joint mobilizations take these glides/slides move with these motions, but not always 😉

Here is 1 of 2 ways to improve your ankle dorsiflexion and stop the ankle pinch. I've seen this first mobilization done differently (with the band pulling from behind).

This really doesn't make any sense to me because the talus is fixed while the tibia and fibula need to move forward🤔.

Therefor the band pulls the tib-fib joint forward on the fixed talus. 

Here’s the next fix to help improve your ankle dorsiflexion. During dorsiflexion, the distal fibula (the outside of your ankle) needs to move out of the way because the anterior talus is larger than the posterior Is this what you need?

Hard to say, but you can do a quick test. Put your bare-foot up to a wall.

Keeping your heel on the ground, bring your knee to the wall. If you can’t reach the wall - 🙈. You should be able to though. Continue to nudge your foot back until you can no longer get your knee to the wall.

Try this mobilization, and assess again.

Stiff Ankles = PROBLEMS (Ankle Motor Control)


Movement starts from the 👟 up!  We’ve posted a few videos on how to improve your ankle ROM over the past few weeks.  This final video in the series shows you how to own that new range of motion.  Without teaching your body how to effectively use the new range, it will continue to fall into the same restricted movement patterns, and all of that stretching will go to 💩!

Eccentric strength through ankle dorsiflexion ROM is essential.  In fact, EMG studies show that the gastrocs soleus complex (our calves) are most active in the gait cycle when slowing down our tibias as they move over our feet in the stance phase.    Translation- our calf muscles need to be the strongest when controlling and slowing down our bodies during walking (during ankle dorsiflexion), and not actuallywhen we would think they are pushing us forward (ankle plantar flexion)🤔  We’ll save that though for another post though.

Stiff Ankles = PROBLEMS (2/3)

Ankle joint capusle mobilizations

If you are lacking ankle range of motion, specifically dorsiflexion, you need to look at soft tissue mobility as well as joint capsule mobility.  A previous video we posted showed you how a few ways to address soft tissue restrictions.  Here's some techniques to get at the joint.  The last video of this series will go over turning your new range of motion gains into functional, usable gains that stick.    

Ankle Sprains!



The ATFL or anterior talofibular ligament is the most common ligament in the ankle that people tear/sprain/injure. 

It attaches the talus and the distal head of the fibula. 

The ATFL is typically torn or sprained when the ankle moves into inversion and plantar flexion (toes pointing in and down) at an extremely high velocity. 

Unfortunately, ligaments don't return back to their original shape.  Once they are sprained, or stretched, your ankle remains less stable and you are more likely to re-injure yourself. A physical therapist can give you targeted exercises to rebuild the muscles around your ankle and help improve your motor control and balance to decrease your risk of re-injury. 

Leg Day - Calves



Origin:  Medial and lateral epicondyles of the femur

Insertion:  Calcaneal tuberosity via the Achilles tendon

Innervation: Tibial nerve (S1, S2)

Action:  Ankle (talocrural joint) - plantar flexion
      Knee - flexion


Origin:  Posterior surface of the head and neck of the fibula and the soleal line of the tibia via a tendinous arch

Insertion:  Calcaneal tuberosity via the Achilles tendon

Innervation: Tibial nerve (S1, S2)

Action:  Ankle (talocrural joint) - plantar flexion

What does that mean?  The gastrocnemius is the muscle with two heads, and is the one that people like to flex and show off.  It crosses both your knee and ankle joint, and is best strengthened with the knee straight.  When you bend the knee, you put the gastrocs on slack, and at this length/tension relationship, the gastrocs are not very effective at plantar flexing the ankle.  
The soleus is a flat muscle (google sole fish) that lays under the two heads of the gastrocs.  Just because you don’t see this muscle when you’re flexing, doesn’t mean it’s not important.  The soleus helps give your gastrocs some bulk, and helps them pop.  Strengthen your soleus by doing resisted ankle plantar flexion with your knee bent.
Collectively, the gastrocs and soleus are known as the triceps surae.  They both have a distal tendinous junction at the Achilles tendon.  Both muscles are extremely important in gait and dynamic activities, and both become ineffective with an Achilles tear.