Why Are The Ankles Important In Running?
Unlike perhaps the importance of arm drive, or of shoulder and back mobility for runners, the critical role of the ankles in running ought to be fairly obvious to everyone. The ankles connect your feet to your lower limbs. If this connection is not functioning optimally, it can create problems in both directions.
How Do Stiff Ankles Affect Running?
Stiff ankles will impede the dispersal of the impact forces upon landing, meaning higher impact with every step, and all the potential issues high impact creates. In addition, nice, healthy, mobile ankles will positively contribute to the transmission of force during the push-off phase. Stiff ankles will therefore do a poorer job of absorbing impact and generating force; contributing to a higher injury risk and worse running performance.
What Are The Benefits Of Ungluing The Ankles?
If you are limited in your ankle range of motion (particularly in dorsiflexion – moving your foot upwards towards your shin), you are leaving yourself open to a higher risk of injury, and you’re missing out on improvements to your running performance. Most modern shoes have raised heels (this includes men’s shoes), which can contribute to shortening the achilles tendon and decreasing ankle range of motion. Most people, then, will have some improvements to work towards in their ankle mobility.
So even if you’ve never had any issues with your ankles, it’s fairly likely that working to improve your ankle mobility will help to improve your running technique, and reduce your risk of injury.