I start clients off with a foundation movements at all the joints. One, to see the ROM. And two, proprioception is often diminished in cases of reduced ROM. Moving the joints through the ROM helps stimulate the PNS.
So for the ankles, dorsiflex/plantarflex/invert/evert/circumduction cw/ccw. All of those can be progressed with resistance slowly over time.
Feet and ankles are tough….tough…tough to deal with.
Think about it, we are on our feet all day that means two important pieces. Number one, recovery takes a lot longer and any mobilization is less likely to stick. Number two, what happens at our feet is heavily influenced by all joints above it.
My advice is to take systematic approach to your ankle.
1. golf ball roll on arch of foot–this is where all the plantarflexor muscles insert and attach into.
2. calf on knee smr– smr for belly of gastroc and soleus.
3. seated calf AIS with rope for gastroc and soleus– stretch and hold repeats for 3 seconds on and 1 second off.
4. standing bent knee soleus stretch on bosu
With all that being said, what may be most important is that you test-retest to see how effective you are. For this, try taking a kneeling position about 5 inches from a wall and push forward and see just how close you can get to the wall without letting your ankle come up off the ground. Reperat for other side.
hope this helps,
I also agree with Danielle. Spelling the alphabet (with both feet!) is a good way to involve plantar and dorsifelexion, inversion and eversion, and tibiotalar rotation.
But keep in mind that limitations to ankle mobility can be significantly impacted by medical history–sprains, strains, fractures. So, I agree with LaRue that if there is any history of injury, check with your client’s physician of physical therapist to make certain that your workout plan is appropriate.