Stiff ankles can shorten your stride and speed up overuse injuries.
A mobile ankle can help in 3 ways.
1) Better bounce of the ground increasing your stride length
2) Less wear and tear on the the knees, hips and low back
3) Greater overall efficiency improving longevity
As a runner it’s important to maintain optimal mobility in your ankles, hips, shoulders and Thoracic spine to ensure you can put your body in the best position to put the greatest amount of force into the ground possible. And I realize that for a distance runner conserving energy is a must and you would never produce the same amount of force into the ground as Usain Bolt but for the sake of running faster or runner longer you will need to be as efficient as possible, and using your joints support structures not shear muscular force is how to make this happen.
Runners must be aware of which part of their foot is contacting the ground first if they are to truly transform their ankle into a spring. Our feet and ankles are equipped with arches and a giant rubber band wrapped around the back side called the Achilles tendon, the largest and strongest tendon in the body. Think of shooting a rubber band across the room, the tighter you pull it, the farther it goes. But just like anything in life if you pull too far or too often you just might break that rubber band. This why its important to make sure your ankles have enough mobility and strength to handle the stress of running.
Mobility Drills for increasing your ankle mobility
Tissue Care – Spend 3-5 Minutes pre/post run for tissue care
The Single leg down dog with ROM- 10 reps on each leg for 1-2 sets
Squat hold – Hold for 30 seconds 1-2 sets
Toe Walking – Walk for 30 yards or 90 steps
Heel Walking – Walk 30 yards or 90 steps