How Stiff Ankles Lead to Back Pain

Those of you that have been to athletic physical therapy have likely learned about how a limitation in one area of the body can contribute to pain or injury elsewhere. It is common to find that runners, fitness enthusiasts, and other active people experiencing chronic lower back pain also have stiff ankles.

Exercises such as squats and lunges are a staple of many workouts and group exercise classes. These movements, in addition to many others, require a great deal of ankle dorsiflexion (the action of the knee moving over the toe). If an individual has stiff ankles and wishes to perform these activities, he or she must compensate and figure out another way to complete the exercise.

People are forced to reach their bottoms farther backwards when stiff ankles prevent their knees from advancing far enough beyond their toes. This pushes belly button forward in an effort to avoid falling backwards. As a result, the lower back arches excessively, compressing the area, and often results in discomfort.

Check out the article below from fellow Northeastern University Alumni, and former Physical Therapist for the Red Sox, Mike Reinold, to learn how you can measure if you have enough ankle dorsiflexion.

Ankle Mobility Exercises to Improve Dorsiflexion

Now that you measured your ankle dorsiflexion, what do you do about it if it?

In addition to some of Mike’s great recommendations, we suggest that you try the activities below from Dr. Cody!

If any of these activities cause pain or result in a pinching sensation in the front of the ankle, please contact us.

Have fun!