Improve Ankle Dorsiflexion With This Simple Joint Mobilisation

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I’ve just finished another running rehab session where we’ve seen immediate and impressive improvements in closed-chain ankle dorsiflexion, through using this simple joint mobilisation.

In the video above, I demonstrate a simple resistance band exercise you can use to improve your ankle dorsiflexion.

It’s not uncommon that athletes who lack dorsiflexion, do so not just due to tightness through the plantar flexor muscles (calf complex), but also potentially due to poor accessory movement of the ankle joint.

In weight bearing dorsiflexion, as the tibia and fibular roll forwards over the top of the talus, the talus needs to be able to glide posteriorly (relative to the lower leg), to enable proper joint movement into dorsiflexion. This simple mobilisation technique, known as a Mobilisation with Movement (MWM) facilitates just that gliding motion.

Give it a go at home!

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Last updated on March 2nd, 2021.


  1. Thanks for posting this!

    Ive had poblems with my left ankle since it rolled it out on a run about 18 months ago. I can best describe it as tight, if I compare left and right ankles then I can move the right ankle much further.

    Using the stretchy band technique, I saw an improvement right away. Cheers!

  2. Hi James

    I like this idea for stubborn ankles with poor dorsifkexion, but he trouble with this technique is IMVHO that the talus is way too deep for the the band to do any posterior glide on it, Instead I think its much better to apply an anterior glide to the tibia so that the band is pulling in the opposite direction to this video

    This still fits with Kaltenbourns concave / convex rule of arthro kinematics where a concave surface (tibia) is moving anteriorly on a convex (talar dome) so the joint glide also occurs in the same direction as the bone movement ie anteriorly, so the band needs to pull posterior to anterior on the tibia, eg from back to front when lunging forward in weight bearing

    I seem to get better results this way



    1. Hi Adam, thanks for this twist on the exercise. I’ll give it a go. Certainly makes sense 🙂

      To be honest I see best results when ditching the resistance band all together, and instead applying manual hands-on pressure to facilitate the desired glide.

    2. Good Point, Adam.

      I honestly don’t think I’m really even causing mechanical changes half the time with my manual therapy. I would like to think it’s more of a neurophysiological model instead. However, it works on some people even if we don’t know why for sure yet. Additionally, I also do the variation that you suggested with patients as well using a mulligan belt or the edge mobility band like in this other video of mine.
      A Mulligan MWM for Ankle Dorsiflexion Variation:

  3. I have found this set of exercises really helpful…particularly doing it with a partner. I have a very tight left ankle and have never been able to do a squat with feet firmly on the ground until I started following them. I am really impressed with how quickly my flexibility increased.

    I did them every other day with the help of my Husband. Totally recommend 🙂

  4. Thanks James,

    Your thoughts on posterior chain weakness or motor control issues, leading to shortening and weakness of posterior leg.

    The above exercise is good, but zi feel it rarely addresses the underlying cause if not coupled with examination of the bigger picture.

    1. Sorry I didn’t write that too well. What I meant to ask is do you ever find the post leg simply short and weak?

      I’ve only just entered the sports med industry after 9 years of study so haven’t the practical experience of someone such as yourself, but found my own ankle equinis was best addressed concurrently with issues proximal and distal to the ankle.

      Do you find posterior compartment to be often weak as well?

      Thanks again for the material, it’s great reading

  5. Very important technique. I did a right leg tibia lengthening 4cm and my ankle join got locked. I was afraid it was equinus contracture… or maybe it was. This technique have enabled me stand without difficulties, day one, for the first time in 9 weeks since surgery. My Ortho surgeon didn’t bother to tell me what to do. So it is not only important to athletees but also for patients after cast removal. Thanks a lot