How Your Stiff Ankles Could Be The Possible Cause Of Lower Back Pain

Could stiff ankles be the possible cause of your lower back pain? For anyone who spends a lot of time on their feet, the answer is an emphatic yes. It is also one of the most commonly overlooked and neglected areas in low back treatment plans and is the reason why taking the time to assess and address ankle mobility will help you limit impact on your spine and save you from YEARS of lower back pain.

In this article we’ll explain the two ways stiff ankles can cause lower back pain and how to improve to solve lower back pain.

Two Ways Stiff Ankles Cause Lower Back Pain


1. More Impact On The Lower Back

Limited ankle/foot mobility can directly lead to more impact on our lower back. Stiff ankles limits our body’s ability to absorb ground reactive forces which leads to more impact being sent up to our knees, hips, and the lower back. A general rule is:

A stiff ankle = less shock absorption = more force transferred up the body = more lower back pain

While the impact is generally small and won’t be noticed initially, the more miles we put on stiff ankles, the more impact gets sent up to our spine, the more back problems we’ll experience as we get older.

Stiff ankles can’t absorb impact from ground, sending impacts to knees, hips, and lower back

2. Movement Compensations

Limited ankle/foot mobility indirectly leads to more impact on the spine through movement compensations. Our body’s are smart, when we lack range of motion in one joint, we will unconsciously compensate to be able to complete the movement. While that sounds nice, the issue is that these compensations put force on areas that aren’t meant to take such an impact (like the low back) and will only work for so long before something breaks down.

The easiest example of how stiff ankles can indirectly lead to more impact on our lower back is with the squat. Missing ankle dorsiflexion will cause our trunk to lean forward to complete the movement. Too many reps, or too heavy a weight, and you’ll start to feel pain in the lower back.

Limited Ankle Mobility Leading To Forward Trunk Flexion

How To Improve Ankle Mobility To Lessen Impact On Lower Back

Now that we know how stiff ankles could be the possible cause of lower back pain, lets go over a few easy exercises you can use to improve your ankle mobility.

Ankle CAR’s

Controlled Articular Rotations (CAR’s) are a great way to imrove range of motion and regain control of our ankle joint. 

Ankle Mobilization Exercise

On of our other favorite ways to improve ankle range of motion (especially into dorsiflexion) is with this easy ankle mobilization exercise. Add some weight or overpressure to sink even lower into the position.

Limited ankle mobility is just one of many areas to assess and address to solve lower back pain. For a more complete understanding and answers to low back pain be sure to download our free program ‘Solving Pain With Strength’.

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Solving Pain With Strength: An Approachable, Step-by-Step Strength Program For Adults Limited By Joint Pain

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