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  • Writer's pictureLionel Pannunzio PT / SCS

Stiff ankles after playing soccer? This is what you can do to help...







Several lower limb injuries have been associated with restricted ankle dorsiflexion.

lateral ankle sprains, anterior cruciate ligament ruptures and hamstring muscle injuries



It was proposed that Restricted ankle dorsiflexion ROM may increase the risk of injury by modifying lower-limb stiffness and landing forces after a vertical jump.


, it is also associated with increased knee valgus, decreased quadriceps activation and increased soleus activation during squat movements that could affect athletes’ performance.


In 2019 a total of 40 professional football players from two different teams playing in the top Spanish football league were evaluated in the pre-season mid-season and post-season


Ankle dorsiflexion was measured using the LegMotion system (a simple instrumented device used to measure ankle dorsiflexion)


Ankle dorsiflexion ROM showed a significant reduction from pre-season in dominant (−8.1%; −9.6%, mid- and post-season, respectively) and non-dominant (−12.5%; −13.8%, mid- and post-season, respectively) ankles.



This study found significant reductions in ankle dorsiflexion ROM during the competitive year and 48 hours after match play in both limbs compared to post-match values.


It is possible that this progressive decrease in ankle dorsiflexion may be an indicator of increased risk of injury and could be addressed with prevention actions such as stretching exercises and eccentric strength.


In the coming days, I will demonstrate a few techniques to increase and maintain ankle dorsiflexion.






Wall Test for Ankle Stiffness


This test is a simple and easy tool we can use to assess whether the ankle has enough range of movement or not.


Start by placing your foot at 4-finger distance from a wall.

Then move your knee towards the wall being sure you keep your heel down and you maintain the foot arch avoiding the collapse inside.

If your knee does not touch the wall that’s a failed test like in this video.









The following videos are demonstrations of what you can do to reduce stiffness in your ankle and lower legs.




1. Foam Rolling of calf musculature


Pre and post-game foam rolling may help reduce tone in these muscles .

Recommended 2-3 minutes on each leg.











2. Massage Gun applied to the calf musculature


Here we demonstrate the best way to work on the calf musculature to release tension by using a massage gun.

Be sure you target the center of the calf as well as the medial and lateral sides of the lower leg.

It is also important to work on the anterolateral part of the leg where the peroneal muscles are located because it is a common area for trigger points .

Recommended 1-2 minutes on each area described above.











3. Massage Stick applied to the calf musculature


Here we demonstrate the best way to work on the calf musculature to release tension by using a massage stick.

Be sure you target the center of the calf as well as the medial and lateral sides of the lower leg.

It is also important to work on the anterolateral part of the leg where the peroneal muscles are located because it is a common area for trigger points.

Recommended 1-2 minutes on each area described above.














4. Dynamic Mobility workout for ankle dorsiflexion


One of the best ways to restore ankle mobility is using this drill in which the ankle gets mobilized into dorsiflexion safely.

Use a heavy dumbbell to reinforce the pressure applied to the stretch.

Be sure you keep the form by not raising the heel, maintaining the arch by pushing down through the big toe.

Recommended 3-5 minutes .









5. Calf raises for ROM


Once you have restored the ankle mobility we need to be able to use that range actively.

Slow pace Calf raises are the way to go.

Be sure you push through the big toe raising as high as possible and descending as low as possible , using 3 seconds to go up and 3 seconds to go down.

Recommended 3 sets of 5-8 repetitions.











Lionel Pannunzio is a Physical Therapist Certified in Sports Injuries.

With more than 20 years of experience helping athletes return to their sports after an injury.

He is the Owner of White Bay Sports Physical Therapy and Fitness, conveniently located  in the beautiful City of Weston, where he treats Soccer Player, Runners and Athletes of all ages

Finally we would like to invite you to follow us  at our:

where you will receive information about your condition and other services we offer, always with the idea of keeping you healthy and fit to enjoy your favorite sport.

Lionel Pannunzio

Physical Therapist

Board-Certified Sports Specialist

Owner of White Bay Physical Therapy



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