Dorsiflexion: Mobility Exercises To Improve Ankle Motion

Dorsiflexion describes your ankle or wrist’s active backward bending or “towards the sky” movement. Ankle dorsiflexion occurs when the ankle and shin come close together. Ankle dorsiflexion mobility limitations can cause injuries to the foot, ankle, knee, hip, and lower back. The best way to improve dorsiflexion mobility is to do mobility exercises and stretches targeted to improve mobility.

Normal Range of Motion

The usual range of motion for dorsiflexion is “0- 17 degree non-weight-bearing and 7-35 degrees weight-bearing”.  If motion limitation, it’s essential to improve dorsiflexion with exercises and stretches.

How to Test Mobility?

An easy way to test ankle dorsiflexion is a simple pass-fail test measuring how many inches away you can still touch the wall with the knee without the heel coming off the ground.

The knee should travel over the second toe to get an accurate measurement of dorsiflexion. The tip of the foot should be 5 inches from the wall, and anything less than 5 inches, a patient or athlete needs to improve ankle dorsiflexion with exercises.

What Causes Limited Ankle Motion?

Ankle dorsiflexion and general ankle flexibility will be limited after injuries such as:

Other causes include:

Regardless of the cause of limited dorsiflexion, exercises and stretches are needed to improve ankle range of motion before the athlete returns to his sport.

Once ankle dorsiflexion is improved, exercises to increase ankle dorsiflexion strength in a dorsiflexed position are important to maintain the gained ankle dorsiflexion range of motion.

Dorsiflexed refers to a locked ankle position in dorsiflexion, such as walking on your heels.

Best Exercises to Improve Flexibility

    • IR dorsiflexion with Band
    • Plank Ankle Rockers
  • Gastrocnemius myofascial stretching
  • Soleus Myofascial stretching

Our editorial practices include evidence-based practices, interventions, and recommendations.


YOU should be able to move the way you’d like to move without experiencing pain. YOU should be able to experience freedom and energy knowing there’s nothing holding back from giving your life 110%. Dr. Dean would like to learn more about your challenges with a quick phone or email before beginning treatment. Contact him today.