Are your stiff ankles ruining your golf swing? How to find out & improve your mobility!
Updated: Sep 7, 2022
Many golfers know that adequate hip, shoulder, and spinal mobility are crucial components of a good golf swing. Ankle mobility, specifically dorsiflexion, is also an important piece of the puzzle and it is often overlooked.
Dorsiflexion is the movement of your ankle where your knee is coming forward over your toes such as when you’re squatting or going downstairs. Your ankles need to have quality mobility in this direction to maintain posture when setting up your swing stance.
As you come through to hit the ball and transition into your downswing, many golfers like to get deeper into that squat to generate more power – this requires even more ankle dorsiflexion.
If mobility in the ankles is lacking at this point in the swing, you will likely extend too early taking you out of your posture leading to an inconsistent swing and missing left or right.
How to know if you’re lacking ankle mobility:
Adequate ankle mobility when speaking about general function is measured as the ability to bring your foot approximately five inches past your toe while keeping the heel flat on the floor.
We can use the Soleus Excursion Test to determine if your mobility is up to par. (Pun intended!)
Follow these steps to perform this simple test to determine if you're lacking ankle mobility:
Put your toe five inches from the wall.
While keep your heel flat, lunge forward bringing your knee straight toward the wall.
Can your knee touch? If not, you’re lacking ankle dorsiflexion range of motion. This could lead to compensatory movements in your golf swing as well as limiting your ability to squat functionally. Decreased mobility with this movement is also often correlated with knee pain.
How to increase your ankle mobility and flexibility
Stretching the calf can help. Specifically stretching the soleus muscle.
However, stretching alone may not fix your issue. Often, I find that my patients’ ankle mobility is more limited by joint stiffness as the primary cause rather than muscle tightness alone.
Our advice is to work on increasing joint mobility first and then follow that up with gentle, prolonged stretching of the calf muscles with specific focus on the soleus. Watch the videos below to learn effective ways to increase both ankle joint mobility as well as soleus flexibility.
Try these exercises consistently for the next couple of weeks and continually retest your gains using the Soleus Excursion Test to see if your knee is getting further past your toes.
If you continue to have issues with a lack of mobility restricting your swing or have pain keeping you from the game you love, then give us a call and see if we may be the right fit to get back on the course and be better than ever!