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Flexibility in ankle joints


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Hoping to draw on your wealth of knowledge out there! Is it possible or even advisable to try and manipulate the flexibility of ankle joints particularly in growing children. Articles seem to express the need to achieve a 180 degree line in extended leg (lying on floor face up toes to floor if you follow!) or you will struggle with the demands of pointe work later in life...thoughts please. Also rather bemused about contraptions like the foot stretcher which are available- again has anyone tried them? If the lack of flexibility is ultimately due to the skeletal make up then I am sure there isn't a lot that can be done anyway!

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I would steer well clear of foot stretchers or any other similar contraptions, and advise anyone with queries about ankle mobility to have an assessment done by an experienced Dance Physio. It may appear that an ankle doesn't have enough flexibility for pointe work when in fact all that's lacking is the strength to hold the pointe. Or there could be a slight bony impingement and in that case over-stretching will do much more harm than good.


A good physio will be able to diagnose whether or not there is a problem, what the problem is, and then prescribe treatment and/or exercises to rectify the apparent lack of facility in the ankle.


Here's an interesting article by Lisa Howell:



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So agree S and P.

Naturally the ankle only has mobility in certain directions and you could damage the joint if stretching it in areas it shouldn't be stretched.


Certain stretches are really only obtained by involving the knee joint as well and if you ......lightly of course.....immobilise the knee joint you can see what the true range of stretch for that person is.

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You wouldn't have to get toes all the way to the floor for a 180 degree angle but perhaps I misunderstood that part? Just pointing your feet fully provides a gentle stretch and does improve the flexibility a bit I think.

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I always look at ankle flexibility before fitting pointe shoes. I explain to dancers who look like they may have a "restriction" that it could be through lack of use of required muscles or bone restriction.

Once they've tried a dozen pointe shoes on it's amazing how much the required muscles fire in enabling the dancer to get up and over on the box.

I've only had a couple of students out of about 150 fittings who have struggled due to what appears to be a construction restriction and I've referred them back to the teacher :)

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