Squat Mobility Series: Ankles
Something easily overlooked for ass-to-grass squat mobility is fixing tight ankles, specifically, dorsiflexion. So if you are unlucky enough to get into a point in your life where your desk job, inactivity, or lifelong lack of stretching has left you with the inability to squat to depth, this series will cover some of my favourite stretches to get you on your way to squat goodness.
If you have been opening up your hips, rolling out your thighs and glutes and nothing seems to be working (we will touch on these issues in other episodes), it might be worth checking with your coach if you have ankle mobility issues, otherwise there is a quick simple test at the bottom of the article.
Stretch those calve muscles out! Seems simple enough, but why?
If you are unable to bend your ankle enough your shins end up more vertical (See picture below), therefore forcing you to keep your hips up.
If you tried to forced your hips down below 90 degrees with this ankle mobility issue, you may find your weight coming forward onto your toes, or you will fall backwards off balance.
1. Roll out your calf muscles and feet.
Simple grab a foam roller, bar, or even better (or worse) a lacrosse ball.
Siting on the floor, place a calf/leg on top of roller/bar/ball.
Holding yourself up with your arms, roll the entire length of your calf up and down, stopping on sore spots for extra TLC (tender loving care)
Rolling the bottom of your feet can also help.
Squat as low as you can, moving your weight side to side to really force that ankle into a flexed position.
If that is too uncomfortable, drop into a lunge position and push your weight forward to stretch the ankle out.
You can also place a kettle bell over your knee for a more aggressive stretch.
Another simple stretch is to prop your foot against the wall, and stretch it by bringing your knee as close as you can to the wall.
How to test Dorsiflexion:
Stand with your right foot perpendicular to the wall, with your big toe 1 inch from the wall and knee in line with the second toe. Flex the knee and attempt to touch the wall while keeping the entire foot flat on the ground, paying specific attention to the heel. If successful, move 2 inches from the wall and repeat the process until maximum distance is found.
<5cm = failure of the test
5-10cm = acceptable range
10+ cm = optimal range