Running Technique: Ankle Position and Role in Running

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In Pose Running it is recommended to hold your ankle in a neutral position, which means your ankle should not be flexed, locked or forced into any specific position at any specific angle during the entire running cycle. This will help you eliminate unnecessary effort and many potential problems that inevitably lead to injuries.

Neutral Position

A neutral position of an ankle is the relaxed position that does not require any deliberate action or muscle activity, nor does it require any focus. What you should focus on are the strengthening exercises for this area (muscles, tendons and ligaments) and technique drills in preparation for running.

Common popular recommendations to hold your ankles at a certain angles when running is like suggesting to hold your elbow at a certain angle when bringing a cup to your mouth to take a sip. It doesn’t work that way does it? Rigid or locked ankle position is an incorrect way to use your natural ‘suspension system’. Can you imagine how you would run or walk or move at all if you didn’t have ankles connecting your feet to your legs? Yes, a funny picture comes to mind. So allow your ankles to do their job, the best thing you can do is recognize their “contribution”, and stay out of the way.

Musculoskeletal Suspension System

Our joints play a very important role in our movement, as well as serve an important role as part of an entire musculoskeletal suspension system that absorbs the previous movement and helps transform the energy and the forces into the next one. Our ankles give us a unique ability to adjust the position and balance of our entire body, be it in response to terrain, particular necessary action like a jump needed to get over a ditch, or something else.

Consider the bigger picture. When moving (or moving forward) different parts of your body operate as one unit – your body moving forward in space and time. Your feet play the role of support. They provide support for the entire structure. It is vital to allow your ankles the freedom of movement so they can naturally and automatically adjust the position of the foot inline with the position of the entire body. If you have your ankles locked and geared up for a particular angle on landing than you’re robbing yourself of your body’s natural built-in mechanisms on top of applying effort where it is not required or needed.

Training & Health

Compare to muscles or bones, joints cannot really get stronger, so the only way to avoid injuries and misuse is to simply use them the right way.

I recommend strengthening your feet, legs and your hips – the entire chain. Jumping rope exercises are a must. This will help your entire ‘suspension system’ become much stronger and more reliable and able to withstand any demand placed upon it especially when running or jumping.

Ankle is the joint between the foot and the leg, in which movement occurs in two planes. So, allow that movement to occur as the situation dictates. The keyword here is ‘allow’. Let it occur. Do not try to position your ankles at any specific angle.


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File under: Human Body, Running, Technique
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