Looking to improve your ankle mobility?  In this post we are going to discuss the best exercises for ankle mobility that I use. Not sure if you need to improve your ankle mobility? Check out this post and perform a quick screening test to see if you have some work to do in this area.

I have some strong feelings about optimal ways to improve mobility. Mainly, its that you have to be an active participant and challenge the limits of whatever mobility you may be gaining. Use it now or lose it later.

We always want to build the mobility back into the skill we are trying to improve. So as you will see in this post, if you are doing it to improve your squat then you better do some squatting afterward. This principle applies to all mobility, especially when trying to gain and maintain end ranges.

I have another short video I did on this a while back. Here is the link if you want more explanation.

What are the best exercises for ankle mobility?

Lateral tibial glides

Fix a pull-up assist band at ankle height. Place the band just under the lateral ankle.

Drive your knee outside of your foot and then forward, mimicking the position in the bottom of your squat. Spend a total of 2 minutes here.

Keep your heel down on the ground and put a good amount of tension on the band to help keep your foot fixed to the ground.

Ankle dorsiflexion mobilization

Fix a pull-up assist band at ankle height. Place the band in the front crease of your ankle joint. The band should rest just below the ankle bones so your leg can pass forward over your foot. If the band is above the ankle bones its too high.

Drive your knee forward and over the outside half of your foot. Don’t let your knee collapse inside of your big toe. Spend a total of 2 minutes here.

Keep your heel down on the ground and have a good amount of tension on the band (tense but not painful).

Eccentric soleus raise

This will work to improve mobility of the soft tissues around the ankle, whereas the first two exercises were addressing joint mobility. This exercise is best performed after the first two.

Keep a slight bend in your knees and elevate yourself so you can drop further into dorsiflexion as you descend.

A slow and controlled tempo is best, I recommend 3 x 12.

Now go squat!

Mobility needs to be used so it sticks over time. We always want to mobilize with a purpose. Ideally, we are gaining mobility and then training it, which is why I have chosen squats for this last exercise.

Your mobility will progress much faster if you are able to challenge your new limits and establish control of it. What does that mean for you then?

After you mobilize, go do the thing that you are hoping to translate the mobility toward. For me and many people, its usually some sort of squatting pattern. It could be anything though, just make sure after you gain the range you go train the range!

Need some extra help with your ankle mobility? Feel like its limiting your performance or even at the root of a recurring injury? At Forged Athlete we specialize in working with active adults and athletes. We help give you a plan to get you feeling better and performing better without having to worry about recurring injury.

Disclaimer: Although I am a physical therapist, I am not YOUR physical therapist. Unless I can evaluate you, I do not know why you have a given mobility limitation. While these drills will help in most cases, I am not advocating that you disregard any medical advice given to you by your current providers.



Dr. Drew Reid is the founder of Forged Athlete Physical Therapy and Performance. He is a physical therapist specializing in treating knee pain. He helps athletes and active adults overcome injuries and improve performance with unique recovery plans and training programs.

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