Dorsiflexion or dorsiflexion: what is its importance?

The action of forming an angle between the foot and the shin at the time of the stride is one of the fundamental movements of running. Improving this technique increases performance and reduces the risk of injury.

Last update: 31 January, 2022

The way to position the feet is one of the keys to running. It is linked to propulsion, the way it is impacted and the development of the next stride. back flexion refers to the movement reducing the angle between the foot and the leg or when the toes approach the shin.

It is a common action in everyday life and sports. For this reason, it is essential to perform the technique properly, since it intervenes in various joints of the lower body.

What is dorsal flexion or dorsiflexion?

Dorsiflexion refers to movement in the ankle joint that brings the toes closer to the shin. That is, when it bends up and narrows the angle between the leg and the back of the foot. Instead, there is plantar flexion, the movement that drives the foot downward.

The shin is the front part of the leg or the part opposite the calf. The action of dorsiflexion occurs thanks to the muscles of the anterior tibia. Therefore, the knees, hips and back are involved.

An estimated ideal measure around 15 degree angle. However, there are multiple reasons why limited dorsiflexion may be incurred. From previous injuries to wrong steps. To prevent problems arising from dorsiflexion, identification and improvement techniques must be carried out.

Affected body parts

Various sectors of the lower body are directly linked to dorsiflexion. Especially, the chain formed by the ankle, the knee and the hip.

An insufficient angle results in incorrect bending, which leads to an increase in the impact with the ground. Another possible consequence is the generation of dynamic valgus in the knee, that is, the opening of its internal compartment.

Importance of dorsiflexion

The technique of dorsiflexion is related to all the actions of the running. Its mastery improves the performance of the race, allowing more precise postures and better markings. Perhaps its relevance is not as noticeable in activities such as walking or jogging, but when it comes to running, it becomes a transcendental movement.

A proper dorsiflexion angle results in a proper stride. With the foot and leg adapted to the suggested measures, the impact is better absorbed and the appropriate muscular tension is generated. Otherwise, the foot may strike the toes, leading to cramps and loss of muscle strength.

A correct dorsiflexion contributes to the prevention of injuries and favors the speed and effectiveness of the race. Although it is a natural movement, it must be perfected and adapted to a technique that allows improving postures. during the race It is the most important action of the impulsive phase..

Dorsiflexion is a part of the biomechanics of running. Its refinement changes the dynamics of racing.

Signs of poor dorsiflexion

In principle, it is necessary to know that there are previous situations that can influence the development of incorrect dorsiflexion. For example, sequelae derived from fractures in the fibula or ankle injuries. Also tensions produced in the lateral ligaments.

Some possible anatomical areas that influence poor dorsiflexion are the following:

  • Shin: pain or cramps in this area may be due to limited dorsiflexion.
  • Anterior muscles: if they are weak, most likely there is forced tension from insufficient dorsiflexion angle. It also happens with the posterior muscles of the limbs.
  • plantar fasciitis: tissue swelling on the bottom of the foot is a consequence of poorly executed dorsiflexion.
  • Knee: by demanding it more than adequate, it can cause pain and inflammation in the foot.

Injuries that can result from incorrect dorsiflexion

On the other hand, more serious problems may arise if the technique is not identified and improved in time. The most frequent injuries are the following:

  • Achilles tendonitis: due to increased tension and overload in the ankle extensor apparatus.
  • Patellar tendonitis: the patellar tendon is under more stress during landing.
  • Metatarsal Fractures: the lack of cushioning worsens the impact and exposes the bones of the foot.
  • Ankle sprain: derived from instability in the area.

Techniques to improve the angle of dorsiflexion

In principle, it is important to know the current state of the art. Coaches can identify the problem by observing the movement of impact against the ground.

Dorsiflexion is a movement that can be consciously improved, that is, taking it into account when running. At first it may be uncomfortable, but then it becomes a habit.

Another recommended measure is stretching and massage of the lower leg. In this way, the range of motion is improved.

How do specialists identify limited dorsiflexion?

Some tests used to measure and identify improper dorsiflexion is knee and ankle flexion without heel lift. From this movement the angle of the tibia is measured. On the other hand, there is the jump test, which works to check all the actions linked to the lower body.

In addition, there is a measuring instrument called goniometer. Finally, the foot can be placed perpendicular to the wall, with the help of a guide tape for the position of the toes. The knee is then pushed towards the wall and the maximum angle is calculated, without lifting the heel off the ground.

Elastic bands are devices that can improve dorsiflexion technique.


Among the actions that can be taken to improve the following are important:

  • Isometric Dorsiflexion: raise one leg with the knee at a 90-degree angle to the hip. Keep the shin perpendicular to the ground. Then flex the toes of the foot that is suspended and hold for 30 seconds.
  • Heel: raise the sole of the foot, keeping the heel on the ground. Walk on your heels for 15 or 20 meters. With your arms you should imitate the movement of the running.
  • Elastic band: sitting and stretched out on the floor, place the elastic band on top of the foot. Move your fingers back and forth for 30 seconds.

Prevention is key

Prevention is the best way prevent injuries or reduce the severity of injuries. If correct dorsal flexion is achieved, it contributes to the precaution of discomfort in the entire lower body.

Improving this technique does not depend on the intensity or frequency with which you run. Performing it efficiently is useful for any sporting activity. Even if a good mastery is achieved, it is possible to increase the performance and the time dedicated to training.

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