Quick & Easy Self-Assessment: Ankle Dorsiflexion

Limited ankle dorsiflexion (moving your foot up towards your body) is a common issue and its ramifications can affect the foot all the way up the kinetic chain to the shoulder.  Some of the common problems that limited ankle dorsiflexion can lead to are: plantar fasciosis, achilles tendinopathy, ACL tears, anterior knee pain, and lateral hip pain.

If you can’t dorsiflex properly, there are many ways in which your body will compensate – the arch in your foot may flatten out, your knee might move inwards when squatting/going up & down stairs, you may flex your spine excessively when squatting, etc.

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The way that I like to assess dorsiflexion on my patients is the same way that I instruct patients to self-assess it: using the half-kneeling ankle dorsiflexion test.  It is easy to perform and assess and requires no special equipment.  Below is a video of the test and underneath the video is a written description of the test.

To perform the test:

  • Take your shoes off!
  • Get into the half-kneeling position (I recommend putting a pad down so you don't bother your knee)
  • Position your foot so that your big toe is 5 inches from the wall and so that your toes are facing forward towards the wall (not turned out)
  • Maintaining good posture and keeping your heel on the ground, try to touch your knee to the wall
  • Make sure your knee goes straight towards the wall (knee should not move inwards and hip/butt should not move out to the side)

I consider this movement dysfunctional (and worth treating) if any of the following things happen:

  • Knee does not touch the wall
  • Heel comes off the ground
  • Arch of foot excessively flattens out
  • Foot turns out
  • Knee moves inward
  • Hip/butt moves out to the side
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