The foot is the foundation for all movement we perform. It's also one of the most neglected areas of the body, As the foundation for most movements, the foot will dictate how much force gets transfered up the kinetic chain to the knees, hips, and low back. As a general rule of them when it comes to foot health:
A stiff foot = less shock absorption = more force transferred up the kinetic chain = more pain and injury.
A more mobile and strong foot = better shock absorption = less force transferred up the kinetic chain = less pain and injury
With the idea that a mobile and strong foot is better able to protect us from injury, let's take a look at some of the common areas of stiffness in the foot/ankle.
Common Areas to Improve
1. Ankle Dorsiflexion
One of the most common missing range of motion we see that leads to poor shock absorption is ankle dorsiflexion. A normal ankle should have around 45 degrees of ankle dorsiflexion.
Missing ankle dorsiflexion decreases the foots ability to absorb ground reactive forces and leads to increase strain up kinetic chain. It also causes other movement compensations that lead to variety of other injuries.
2. Big Toe Mobilization
Another common area where range of motion is missing and can lead to big problems up the kinetic chain is the big toe. Adequate range of motion (around 65 degrees) is needed to avoid compensations that place strains anywhere up the kinetic chain (arch of foot, knee, hips, etc.). Any easy way to improve big toes ROM is through the following mobilization (video on left).
One proper range of motion has been established it's important to build strength and control of the foot as well. We cover this in a previous article which you can Find Here.