…….articles about dorsiflexion range and risk of ACL injury and also hip strength……I mob and stretch and find that often these types of limitations return so quickly. I am curious if you really get these ankles loosened up or must the athlete continue to address this tightness on a daily basis?
There can be a couple things going wrong if you are working on mobility, achieving it, and then losing it quickly.
1. You are not achieving it. There are a lot of different ways to appreciate ankle mobility. I think the 4″ over the toes is an ideal audit that many folks agree on.
What is important in that test is to appreciate the knee tracking in the sagittal plane. Dropping into pronation will create an illusion of increased excursion of the knee. Clawing of the toes is also something that can discredit the excursion.
2. You are not using it. There’s definitely a million and one different ways to drive ankle mobility. In a warmup, either specific or general, consider static before dynamic, slow before fast, simple before complex. Pick something that drives the ankle in each of those continuums.
3. You are not integrating it. Once you have restored ankle mobility, I think the importance of the mobility there as well as the other joint systems in the foot makes daily specific work very appropriate. A steady of diet of sprinting, lunging, deep squats should keep the ankles fresh and proprioceptively charged to be a part of propulsion.
4. The rest of the body isn’t keeping up. We should look to half-kneeling and dynamic patterns in different combinations of hip and t-spine mobility should keep and regularly improve mobility and stability everywhere in the body. Keeping ankle mobility can be limited by the rest of the body where as if excursions from the hips or t-spine don’t allow for a big excursion, you will not be “using” the new ankle that you worked on.
I’m not sure you can do too much if you are focusing on the ankles/feet as there is more than the biomechanics that makes wild ankle mobility very advantageous, such as the positive proprioception that the foot is capable of delivering to the entire system.
I’m also not sure manual work is mandatory for maintainence, but cracking the limiting factors as above are all part of the daily solutions.