Yoga poses for ankle and foot mobility
I know yoga poses for ankle and foot mobility might not sound super exciting, but your ankles and feet are important body parts, so let’s talk about them. Even though working on your feet might sound boring, honestly these poses feel really great.
When motion is restricted at the feet/ankles, not only can lead to issues at these specific areas, it can also cause issues of the knees, hips, and lower back. As you always hear me say, the entire body is connected. Also to note, your feet hold up the weight of your entire body so they deserve some extra love and care.
The yoga poses in this post are going to work on two motions of the ankle joint (called dorsiflexion and plantar flexion) and extension of your toes.
There are other motions that occur in the ankles other than these two motions that we’re covering. If you want to work on all of them, I suggest doing ankle circles in a slow and controlled manner. I am writing it out here because I don’t know if ankle circles are really a yoga pose but they are great to do.
5 Yoga poses to improve foot and ankle mobility
1. Downward dog
I feel like we can’t have this post without including downward dog, a staple yoga pose in a vinyasa practice. Downward dog is so great at working on ankle dorsiflexion, which is a motion that is pretty commonly limited in people.
Remember, in downward dog, you want to be working your hips up towards the sky, so if you need to bend your knees to do this, then definitely bend your knees.
Even if you can get the knees straight with your heels on the ground, it may feel nice to bend the knees. When you bend your knees in this pose, you’re working more on mobility of your ankle joints instead of focusing on stretching a calf muscle called the gastrocnemius.
This pose works on the opposite motion that downward dog works on; it works on ankle plantar flexion.
There are different variations you can do in this pose.
If sitting back on your heels is too much, you can place one or two yoga blocks under your pelvis to lift you higher.
You could also lean back on your hands or your elbows to intensify the pose but if you do this, keep your knees in contact with the earth, meaning don’t lift your knees up off the floor. I feel that lifting the knees up puts too much strain on your ankles so I don’t recommend it. (This variation is shown in the video linked at the end of this post.)
3. Toe stand
This pose works on great toe extension. This is a motion that is commonly limited and it has more of an impact on the rest of the lower body than you might think. This motion is super important when walking and if it’s limited, other areas of the lower body will have to take on extra strain.
If it’s too much to sit back on your heels as shown in the photo, you can lean forward on your hands.
Also to note, the pinky toe tends to get stuck underneath when you go into this position, so just use your hand to adjust your feet so that the bottom of all your toes are on the floor.
4. Quadruped calf stretch
This pose not only can improve your joint mobility, it’s also great at stretching through the calf muscles and plantar fascia.
When performing this pose, really think about pressing your heel toward the back of your mat.
P.S. I have no idea if there’s an actual sanskrit name for this pose so I just named it based on what it’s doing anatomically.
And lastly, we have malasana, also known as yogi squat. This is a great one for working on ankle mobility. If you find that your heels are floating up in the air, try placing two evenly folded towels underneath each of your heels so that you can relax into the pose.
So there you have it, 5 different yoga poses to work on ankle and foot mobility.
To do all of these poses in a quick 15 minute flow, check out the video below!