How to Improve Ankle Dorsiflexion and Calf Strength for Better Performance

by Nick Tumminello, NSCA-CPT
Personal Training Quarterly April 2022
Vol 8, Issue 4

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This article highlights four non-traditional calf exercises that can immediately be used in strength programs for improving calf strength while also increasing ankle dorsiflexion mobility.

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This article originally appeared in Personal Training Quarterly (PTQ)—a quarterly publication for NSCA Members designed specifically for the personal trainer. Discover easy-to-read, research-based articles that take your training knowledge further with Nutrition, Programming, and Personal Business Development columns in each quarterly, electronic issue. Read more articles from PTQ »

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1. Backman, LJ, and Danielson, P. Low range of ankle dorsiflexion predisposes for patellar tendinopathy in junior elite basketball players: A 1-year prospective study. American Journal of Sports Medicine 39(12): 2626-2633, 2011.

2. Baechle, TR, and Earle, RW. Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics; 2008.

3. Bell, DR, Padua, DA, and Clark, MA. Muscle strength and flexibility characteristics of people displaying excessive medial knee displacement. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 89(7): 1323-1328, 2008.

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5. Dill, K, Begalle, RL, Frank, BS, Zinder, S, and Padua, D. Knee and ankle kinematics during squatting are altered in those with limited ankle dorsiflexion range of motion assessed during a weight bearing lunge. Journal of Athletic Training 49(6): 723-732, 2014.

6. Hébert-Losier, K., Schneiders, AG, García, JA, Sullivan, SJ, and Simoneau, GG. Influence of knee flexion angle and age on triceps surae muscle activity during heel raises. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 26(11): 3124-3133, 2012.

7. Hewett, TE. Biomechanical measures of neuromuscular control and valgus loading of the knee predict anterior cruciate ligament injury risk in female athletes: A prospective study. American Journal of Sports Medicine 33(4): 492-501, 2015.

8. Hull, ML, Berns, GS, Varma, H, and Patterson, HA. Strain in the medial collateral ligament of the human knee under single and combined loads. Journal of Biomechanics 29(2): 199-206, 1996.

9. Macrum, E, Bell, DR, Boling, M, Lewek, M, and Padua, D. Effect of limiting ankle-dorsiflexion range of motion on lower extremity kinematics and muscle-activation patterns during a squat. Journal of Sport Rehabilitation 21(2): 144-150, 2012.

10. Malliaras P, Cook, JL, and Kent, P. Reduced ankle dorsiflexion range may increase the risk of patellar tendon injury among volleyball players. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport 9(4): 304-309, 2009.

11. Mauntel, TC, Begalle, RL, Cram, TR, Frank, B, Hirth, C, Blackburn, T, and Padua, D. The effects of lower extremity muscle activation and passive range of motion on single leg squat performance. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 27(7): 1813-1823, 2013.

12. Möck, S, Hartmann, R, Wirth, K, Rosenkranz, G, and Mickel, C. Correlation of dynamic strength in the standing calf raise with sprinting performance in consecutive sections up to 30 meters. Research in Sports Medicine 26(4): 474-481, 2018.

13. Padua, D, and Clark, M. Knee injury prevention: Hip and ankle strategies. Lower Extremity Review 6(1): 23-27, 2014.

14. Padua, DA, Bell, DR, and Clark, MA. Neuromuscular characteristics of individuals displaying excessive medial knee displacement. Journal of Athletic Training 47(5): 525-536, 2012.

15. Piva, SR, Goodnite, EA, and Childs, JD. Strength around the hip and flexibility of soft tissues in individuals with and without patellofemoral pain syndrome. Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy 35(12): 793-801, 2015.

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19. Tamaki, H, Kitada, K, Akamine, T, Sakou, T, and Kurata, H. Electromyogram patterns during plantarflexions at various angular velocities and knee angles in human triceps surae muscles. European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology 75(1): 1-6, 1996.

20. Witvrouw, E, Lysens, R, Bellemans, J, Cambier, D, and Vandestraeten, G. Intrinsic risk factors for the development of anterior knee pain in an athletic population. A two-year prospective study. American Journal of Sports and Medicine 28(4): 480-489, 2000.

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Nick Tumminello, NSCA-CPT

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Nick Tumminello has become known as the Trainer of Trainers for his ability to provide simple, honest, and immediately applicable solutions to common ...

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