The Importance of Ankle Dorsiflexion and How to Measure Yourself
Ankle Dorsiflexion occurs when we pull our toes back towards our body (in the open chain) or drive our knee over our ankle (in the closed chain). A lack of ankle dorsiflexion is a common contributor to ankle, knee, hip and back pain. The movement can be limited due to previous injuries, tight musculature (gastroc and soleus), restrictions in the joint itself, and even the shoes we wear.
While seemingly insignificant, limitations in ankle dorsiflexion lead to a host of problems up the kinetic chain.
A lack of dorsiflexion causes our trunk to lean forward during functional movements like the squat. This contributes to low back pain. This poor positioning can also inhibit performance in the gym and athletics by limiting our ability to generate power from the hips
A stiff foot is a foot that doesn't adequately absorb the forces of our daily life and leads to increased forces being transferred up the kinetic chain. Really bad for runners.
This is why it's important for you to know how much ankle dorsiflexion you have and have strategies to improve it (if you're lacking or there's an imbalance side to side).
How to Measure Your Own Dorsiflexion on Your iPhone
Go to the Utilities Section of Your iPhone
Click on the 'Compass App'
Once in the App, swipe screen to the left
You should now see a 'Level' (3rd Picture)
Place phone on shin (see video). In a lunge position, drive front knee forward as far as you can (keeping heel on ground). Make sure your in a position where back leg isn't limiting range of motion (hip flexors/psoas).
Should be able to get to 45 degrees both sides. Also look for imbalances side to side
How to Improve Ankle Dorsiflexion
The mobilization to improve ankle dorsiflexion is similar to the test. Use a PVC or pole as a target, and drive knee forward just until heel starts to come off the ground. Back off and then drive forward again.