The Effect of Stiff Ankles on Knee Health

Knee pain can be a frustrating issue for the active adult. While there is not a one size fits all approach to knee pain, there are common issues that we see when the knee is in pain or injured. One of these common issues is a stiff ankle joint.

Ankles can become stiff for a number of reasons. A lifetime of wearing restrictive footwear or repeated ankle sprains can result in mobility restrictions of the ankle.   In addition, restrictions may be due to impingement of the joint itself or tension in the muscles surrounding the ankle.

When there is impingement of the ankle, a pinching sensation is felt in the front or inner part of the ankle. This might be noticeable with deep squats or lunges. If the mobility restriction is due to stiff soft tissue, that muscles that are usually implicated are the to gastrocnemius and the soleus muscles.

When the ankle joint is locked up, movement compensations occur. Typically what we see is excessive pronation of the feet (collapse of the arch) and caving of the knees during squats or lunges. Overtime, we may see some development of bunions or calluses on the big toe. In addition, when these compensations occur, they could put stress on the patella (knee cap) and result in pain in the front of the knee.

In our office, part of the knee examination includes a thorough assessment of the ankle. If the ankle joint mobility is restricted, we typically perform hands on work to unlock the joint. If soft tissue is restricted, we do soft tissue mobilization, cupping, or dry needling technique to address tissue restrictions.

We follow that up with mobility/stability drills to train the muscles to actively shorten and lengthen through full ranges of motion. In addition, we also assess and correct other regions of the body that might not be functioning properly. When it comes to knee pain these usually include the muscles of the hips, core, and quads.

Once pain is controlled and mobility and strength is restored, next step is to train functional patterns movement with perfect technique.  These may include the hinge, squat, and lunge. This progression allows our clients to get out of pain, restore movement, and develop a durable body that can withstand the demands of their active lifestyle.

If you’re in pain or injured and would like to know how the providers at Movement Solutions can help, we would be glad to set up a free 15-minute phone consultation with one of our providers.  We can take this time to discuss your issue and treatment options as well as our cost and availability.  If you’re tired of being held back by nagging issues, let us develop a custom plan for you to get back to the activities that you love.

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