How do I get my ankle to bend more?
September 29, 2007 2:05 AM   Subscribe

My left ankle joint is inflexible, which affects my form when I'm working out. Can I change this? What kind of doctor should I see? Is there hope?

A few years ago I used to get repeated small sprains of my left ankle just from walking around. I worked on strengthening the ankle muscles and it hasn't happened for a long time. But when I do calf stretches the left ankle just doesn't budge as far as the right. When I try to squat down on one leg, my right side has full range of motion, but on the left side my knee caves in to compensate for the ankle. When I do squats with weight, if I take a normal stance then either my left heel pops up or my left knee caves in or I bend my lower back too much. I've compensated by taking a sumo stance with my feet pointed out about 35 degrees, and this way I can get down to a full squat with a straight back and straight knees. However I'm still worried that over time my ankle inflexibility will give me knee or back problems. Even when I'm running I've noticed my left foot pointing outwards more.

I'm willing to go to doctors and spend lots of time stretching it but I don't know how or even if there is any point. It seems like the problem is really not my calf muscle but the joint itself. I am grateful for any advice from medical experts or fitness nerds.
posted by creasy boy to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm not a medical expert, but I'd suggest getting a consultation with a podiatrist.
posted by amyms at 3:01 AM on September 29, 2007

I sprained my ankle and for a few years after it tended to lock up at extremes of motion like you describe. My physiotherapist told me there was some sort of membrane around the joint that was too tight because of the injury, and that the ankle was mildly dislocated because of it. She was able to fix it just by pulling on the foot for a few minutes.

If you need to see a doctor for insurance reasons, I would recommend a Sports Medicine doctor, but a physiotherapist can fix it (maybe for free if they treated the sprained ankle) if it's the same problem I had.
posted by cardboard at 6:07 AM on September 29, 2007

Definitely see a sports medicine doctor. It sounds like you may have had some partial tearing and scar tissue.
posted by sanka at 7:44 AM on September 29, 2007

Thank you for the answers. I don't think the category "podiatrist" exists here in Germany, all they have are orthopedists. I think what I'll do is go to a sports medicine guy for a good physiotherapist recommendation. That they can fix it just by pulling on it is exactly the sort of thing I wanted to hear.
posted by creasy boy at 11:12 AM on September 29, 2007

If you were really inflexible in both ankles, I would say don't hold out much hope. I have extremely inflexible achilles tendons in both feet and as far as I can tell little short of surgery will do anything for them.
But, since it's only one foot then it might be fixable. Definitely see a sports medicine doc, and good luck!
posted by ch1x0r at 5:23 PM on September 29, 2007

I would suggest an Osteopath (a DO). I'm in a DO school, we're doctors. Some specialize more in the principles of manipulation which osteopathy was founded on. So find one that does OMM. Not too hard, there's probably one or two in your town/nearby. We do a lot with posture and removing restricted barriers. If anything, call one and see what they have to say.
posted by uncballzer at 10:40 AM on September 30, 2007

Go to a physical therapist that specializes in manual therapy. A combination of stretching, joint mobilizations, and targeted exercise might be able to help you. Good luck!
posted by jennyjenny at 2:04 PM on October 3, 2007

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