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Mastering Dorsiflexion from Half Kneeling with Dowel

Did you know that limited ankle mobility can significantly impact your overall performance and increase the risk of injury? Whether you're an athlete or just someone looking to improve their movement, unlocking your ankle's full potential can make a world of difference.

In today's post, we'll explore the Dorsiflexion from Half Kneeling with Dowel exercise. This movement is a powerful tool for improving ankle mobility, enhancing athletic performance, and preventing injuries.

By the end of this blog, you'll understand the benefits of this exercise, the anatomy involved, and how to perform it correctly to incorporate it into your routine for optimal results.

Benefits of the Exercise

Health Benefits:

  • Improves ankle mobility, which is crucial for daily activities and overall movement quality.

  • Enhances joint health by promoting proper movement patterns and reducing stiffness.

Performance Benefits:

  • Enhances lower body mechanics, leading to better performance in sports and physical activities.

  • Supports proper squat and lunge techniques, contributing to more effective strength training.

Additional Benefits:

  • Aids in injury prevention by addressing common mobility limitations.

  • Promotes balance and stability, which are essential for athletic performance and functional movements.

Anatomy and Muscles Involved

Muscle Groups:

  • Primary: Tibialis anterior, Gastrocnemius, Soleus

  • Secondary: Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Glutes

Anatomy Overview: The exercise primarily targets the muscles around the ankle, specifically the tibialis anterior for dorsiflexion, and the gastrocnemius and soleus for overall ankle flexibility.

Functional Relevance: Proper ankle mobility is vital for activities such as walking, running, jumping, and squatting. It ensures efficient force transfer through the lower body and reduces the risk of compensatory movement patterns that can lead to injuries.

Step-by-Step Guide


  • Equipment: A dowel (or any straight stick) and a mat for comfort.

  • Warm-up: Engage in a light warm-up focusing on the lower body, such as dynamic stretches or light cardio.


Step 1: Initial position/setup

  • Begin in a half-kneeling position with one knee on the ground and the other foot flat in front.

  • Hold the dowel vertically in front of the toes of the front foot, keeping it close to your body.

Step 2: Movement execution

  • Slowly move your knee forward, aiming to touch the dowel with your knee while keeping the heel of the front foot flat on the ground.

  • Ensure your knee tracks over your toes and does not collapse inward or outward.

Step 3: Return to the starting position

  • Carefully return to the starting position, maintaining control and balance.

Step 4: Common mistakes to avoid

  • Avoid lifting the heel of the front foot off the ground.

  • Ensure the dowel stays vertical and close to the toes.

  • Do not allow the knee to move inward or outward excessively.

Modifications and Variations

Beginner Modifications:

  • Perform the exercise next to a wall for additional balance support.

  • Use a shorter range of motion initially, gradually increasing as mobility improves.

Advanced Variations:

  • Hold a lightweight in the opposite hand for added resistance and stability challenge.

  • Perform the exercise on an unstable surface, such as a balance pad, to engage more stabilizing muscles.

Alternative Exercises:

  • Ankle circles

  • Calf stretches

  • Heel-to-toe walks

Tips for Optimal Performance

Form and Technique:

  • Maintain a neutral spine and engage your core throughout the movement.

  • Keep the dowel vertical and close to your toes for proper alignment.


  • Inhale as you prepare for the movement.

  • Exhale as you move your knee forward, maintaining a steady and controlled breath.

Repetitions and Sets:

  • Beginners: 2-3 sets of 8-10 repetitions per leg.

  • Advanced: 3-4 sets of 12-15 repetitions per leg.

Rest and Recovery:

  • Rest for 30-60 seconds between sets.

  • Include ankle mobility exercises in your routine 3-4 times a week for best results.

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Mistake 1: Lifting the heel off the ground, which reduces the effectiveness of the exercise. Solution: Focus on keeping the heel flat and only moving as far forward as you can without lifting it.

Mistake 2: Allowing the knee to collapse inward or outward.

Solution: Ensure the knee tracks over the toes, maintaining proper alignment.

Integrating the Exercise into a Routine

Workout Plans:

  • Add this exercise to your warm-up routine to prepare your ankles for more intense activities.

  • Include it in your cool-down to improve mobility and aid in recovery.


  • Perform this exercise 3-4 times a week to see significant improvements in ankle mobility.

Combining with Other Exercises:

  • Pair with calf stretches and foam rolling for a comprehensive ankle mobility routine.

  • Incorporate into lower body strength workouts for enhanced performance.

The Dorsiflexion from Half Kneeling with Dowel exercise is an excellent tool for improving ankle mobility, enhancing performance, and preventing injuries. Incorporating this movement into your routine can unlock better movement quality and overall health.

Give this exercise a try and experience the benefits for yourself. Consistent practice will lead to noticeable improvements in your mobility and performance.

Share your experiences with this exercise in the comments below and check out our other blog posts for more tips on functional movement and performance.

Additional Resources

Boulder FIT Performance Training APP

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