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The Pulse - July 2012

The Amazing Ankle, Its Function, and How it Relates to You

By: Nick Mckim NSCA-CPT FMS II

Our ingeniously designed body has many magnificent parts to it. From self-cleansing joint structures to a brain that automatically maintains critical bodily functions to sustain life. A delicate but beautiful balance is always necessary in every facet. One amazing area of the body that we often overlook when it comes to simple activities of daily living is our feet. More specifically the health and function of our ankle, today I will explain every detail as well as all of the inner working of the foot and ankle. So settle down grab a comfy chair and be sure you have the next week free! Way too complicated to explain. Instead I will explain the basic structure, function and best of all why it is important for you to have proper ankle function.

The ankle is made up of 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments and 19 muscles and tendons. It’s incredibly unique design is part of what makes it so stable. Throughout our lives we never even realize how complex some of our parts are until something bad happens, such as an injury. Even the slightest bit of misalignment can send us through the roof in pain or even slowly cause our body to collapse on it. The ankle is similar to a woodworkers mortise and tenon joint. The shin bones or tibia and fibula curve and make up the medial and lateral malleolus, which are the bumps that stick out on the side of your ankle. They form a nice little groove in which the talus fits nicely in. The talus pushes back on the calcaneus which forms your heel. The cuboid pushes against the calcaneus and the navicular pushes against the talus, then there are several other bones such as cuneiforms tarsal metatarsal, metatarsals and then phalanges which are your toes. So now that you are asleep, stand up reach your arms up above your head and sit back down.

The ankle is wrapped very tightly with muscles, tendons, and ligaments. The tendons are what connect the muscles to the bones, and the ligaments connect bone to bone. The biggest tendon found in the body is the Achilles tendon, which connects our calf muscle to our heel. These are all known as “soft tissue”, these soft tissues help our ankle to be able to move up and down, dorsiflexion and plantar flexion, plantar flexion is when you push your toe into the floor, or when you push the gas pedal, dorsiflexion is just the opposite. The ankle is able to turn the sole of the foot toward the middle of your body which is inversion, as well as the opposite which is eversion. When the arch of the foot is strong enough to support it acts as a brilliant spring design to absorb force from the ground.

We sometimes forget how hard every part of our body is working to simply stand, sit, or even walk. Often times these attributes are taken for granted until the privilege is taken away. In order to walk without any added or abhorrent movement we must have at least 10 degrees of dorsiflexion, and in order to run or sprint we must have 20-30 degrees of dorsiflexion. When we walk the force on our foot is increased by 1.5x our bodyweight, and when or if we run the force is 8x! That means a 150lb adult must be able to support 225lbs while standing on one foot and 1200lbs of force while running! All of our joints must be able to move smoothly and properly, if they do not have the capacity to safely move farther into a range that is typical and something pushes their body that far then injury will or can occur. We must also be able to control our movement within those ranges of motion. Our connection to the ground is our feet and ankles, if we do not have a solid foundation starting there then our whole body will be affected and it will let us know. A big part of living well is feeling well, if the delicate balance of any joint is thrown off then you might not be feeling or functioning your best. If you do not know how to restore your balance come in and ask for a free Functional Movement Screen from any of the trainers here at BodyBasics. When it all comes down to it we simply want you to move better, feel better and ultimately live better.

Click the picture for an ankle mobility activity you can try.

Recipe: Portobello “Philly Cheese Steak” Sandwich

From EatingWell: December 2005/January 2006, The EatingWell Healthy in a Hurry Cookbook (2006)


  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 4 large portobello mushrooms, stems and gills removed (see Tip), sliced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano, or 2 teaspoons dried
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth, or reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 ounces thinly sliced reduced-fat provolone cheese
  • 4 whole-wheat buns, split and toasted


Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until soft and beginning to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add mushrooms, bell pepper, oregano and pepper and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are wilted and soft, about 7 minutes.

Reduce heat to low; sprinkle the vegetables with flour and stir to coat. Stir in broth and soy sauce; bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat, lay cheese slices on top of the vegetables, cover and let stand until melted, 1 to 2 minutes.

Divide the mixture into 4 portions with a spatula, leaving the melted cheese layer on top. Scoop a portion onto each toasted bun and serve immediately.


The dark gills found on the underside of a portobello are edible, but if you like you can scrape them off with a spoon.


Per serving: 268 calories; 10 g fat ( 4 g sat , 4 g mono ); 15 mg cholesterol; 35 g carbohydrates; 13 g protein; 7 g fiber; 561 mg sodium; 704 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (140% daily value), Selenium (49% dv), Vitamin A (30% dv), Calcium (25% dv), Potassium (20% dv), Magnesium (16% dv)

Client Spotlight

Nancy Forbes

Nancy Forbes began training with Amelia at BodyBasics just over a year ago with many goals in mind, including weight loss and improving her overall health. After suffering a heart attack several years earlier, her health was top priority. She has been committed to training twice a week, hardly ever missing a session. Her dedication is definitely paying off. Not only has Nancy lost a total of 19 lbs of body fat, she is now able to do things that she never thought possible. We applaud Nancy for her hard work and dedication and are excited to continue helping her on her health and fitness journey.

Your BodyBasics

Nick McKim, Maureen Raine, Amelia Olson, Mike Haas,
Kris & Chris Litten

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