Daily Mobility Exercises by Dr. Kelly Starrett Forums Foot/Ankle Extremely Limited Ankle Dorsiflexion

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    • #88191
      AvatarWill Welsh

      Hey, all,

      I’m just wondering if anyone has ever successfully rehabbed their extremely limited/restricted ankle dorsiflexion. Some background information: I’m a 46-year-old guy who has always had issues with ankle dorsiflexion, to the point that to this day I walk up on my toes and “bounce” when I walk. (Needless to say, growing up with this kind of walking biomechanics was NOT ideal.)

      Started CrossFit a few years ago, and I am simply unable to sit at the bottom of a squat, at least not with my heels coming off the floor. A simple air squat is nearly impossible for me, and that, in turn, has really inhibited my training with all the squatting movements. And I’m not at all comfortable back squatting due to this issue. I’m too far forward, and when the bar gets heavy, I feel my heels lift off the ground (even in lifters) and I’m basically pushing off the balls of my feet.

      Do we think it’s possible for me to recover anywhere near normal ankle mobility? I know that I might never achieve three inches on the knee-to-wall test, but I think I should be able to do better than three centimeters….

      Thanks for your input!

    • #88220
      Kelly StarrettKelly Starrett

      You can totally make progress. In the meantime, get yourself some OLY shoes for squatting. And don’t sweat it.
      You’ve built those calves to be badass! It will take a minute to rewire/lengthen that system. This is ok.
      Muscles and tissues are like obedient dogs.

      Def spend a little time each day working on them. My wife Juliet it the same. She was a toe walker because of her incomplete hip extension. I’m sure you are the same. Open that hip up in extension. Load that ankle in a systems approach way (hint not just rolling…). Even 5 degrees of change will improve your life.


    • #88280
      AvatarWill Welsh


      Thanks! Where do I want to spend most of my time? In the Pain section for Ankle and the Pain section for Front of the Hip? I know I’m not in pain, but is that the right avenue to follow?

      Thanks again,


      • #88423
        Kelly StarrettKelly Starrett

        Honestly, working upstream or downstream is going to help.

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