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Dorsiflexion: Definition, Examples, and Importance

What is Dorsiflexion?

Dorsiflexion is the flexion of the ankle or wrist. During dorsiflexion of the ankle, the toes of the foot move toward the shin. Dorsiflexion of the wrist occurs when the angle at the joint increases, bringing the top of the fingers closer to the forearm. Both movements are essential to many activities, such as walking, running, jumping, performing push-ups, and throwing objects.

Dorsiflexion in Sports and Fitness

Dorsiflexion is a fundamental joint movement that plays a crucial role in balance, strength, power, and mobility. Thus, it’s essential for optimal sports and fitness performance.

Here are some examples of the importance of dorsiflexion:

  • Dorsiflexion allows for a powerful push off the ground, resulting in more efficient and powerful running and jumping. It also allows for better force absorption and protection of the Achilles tendon. As noted in a study published in the Electronic Journal of General Medicine:

    “However, force absorption that got taken over by the soleus and gastrocnemius increases when the ankle dorsiflexion is decreased. The sustainability of strain on the Achilles tendon can lead to tendinopathy, as concluded in previous studies when the decreased ankle dorsiflexion was linked with a 2.5 to 3.6 times greater Achilles’ tendinopathy risk.”

  • Adequate dorsiflexion is crucial for strength training, particularly weightlifting, where ankle and wrist flexion are necessary for getting the barbell into the correct position.

    For instance, as a trainee receives the barbell overhead and goes down to the bottom of a squat, proper ankle dorsiflexion allows for a stable foundation to push off of and complete the lift.

    On the other hand, wrist dorsiflexion is essential for a strong front rack position, where the barbell rests on top of the shoulders in front of the body, and trainees support it with their fingertips.

  • Good dorsiflexion is also crucial for yoga, as some poses require a significant wrist or ankle range of motion. For example, downward facing dog requires good ankle dorsiflexion to do correctly.


1. Does better dorsiflexion improve running performance?

Proper ankle dorsiflexion can improve running performance by allowing for a more powerful push off the ground and more efficient force absorption as the foot strikes the ground.

2. Could poor dorsiflexion impair lifting performance?

Poor dorsiflexion can prevent the ankles or wrists from flexing enough for you to get into a deep squat or get the barbell into a front rack position, ultimately leading to worse performance.

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