In the prior column, I spoke about limited ankle dorsiflexion and how deficits can increase injury risk and disrupt functional movement patterns. This exercise is similar to anterior step-down but involves using a gliding disc to increase ankle mobility.
Execution: Stand on the left leg. Place a gliding disc beneath he right foot. Grasp a secure object with the right hand to support the body and ensure stability/balance during the exercise. Next, slowly slide the right foot forward as far as possible while squatting down on the left side all the while keeping the left heel flat on the floor. Pause at end range of motion and return to the start position.
Perform 10 repetitions. Switch feet and face the opposite direction to perform the exercise on the other side. The left hand will be used for support when the right leg is the stance leg. Repeat for 1-3 sets. Again, performing this exercise with a mirror and/or tactile feedback is helpful to avoid unwanted pronation at the ankle and knee valgus. Performing soft tissue mobilization and static stretching prior to doing this exercise may allow for better results.
Application: The primary aim of this exercise is increasing ankle dorsiflexion. Restrictions in ankle mobility limit squatting and encourage excessive pronation and knee valgus collapse during closed chain activities. Using the gliding disc and sliding the other foot forward in combination with upper body support allows for a very focused movement in the ankle joint, while serving as an effective corrective exercise.
With that said, take care to make sure the gliding disc does not slip out from beneath the foot, and do not allow the client to force motion that creates any pain. If motion is limited on one side, you may elect to do the exercise on just the affected side. This exercise can also be performed with a towel/belt/thick elastic band around the front of the stationary ankle (posteriorly directed force) to facilitate even more joint mobility.