How to Get the Ankle Mobility of a Gymnast (Even if You’re Not One)

Ankle mobility is key to almost every sport. Having good ankle mobility leads to better lateral movement and better motor control.

Here’s a clean and easy-to-implement way to determine if your ankle mobility needs some work, via noted former gymnast and current sports physical therapist Dave Tilley.

How to measure ankle mobility

Find a wall and measure out five inches from the wall on the floor and mark. This is where you will place your big toe.

From there, while keeping the foot firmly on the ground, drive your knee forward. Make sure you do not cheat, i.e. cave the knee inward, flatten the arches or lift the heel.

If you can touch the wall without cheating, then you have five inches of mobility.

Otherwise, keep moving the foot closer to the wall by half-inch increments until you can touch the wall with your knee while maintaining full foot contact. This is your “score.”

Dave Tilley states that a gymnast should have 4.5 inches to 5 inches of ankle mobility to clear the test.

What to do with your mobility score

If you have the proper mobility needed in the ankle, then great! You should look at adding ankle stability exercises to your workout to help control that mobility.

However, if you find that you have less than four inches of ankle mobility, take a look at adding ankle mobility and stability exercises to your routine.

Reference: “Changing Gymnastics Culture,” e-book by Dave Tilley.