This week we look at how to improve your ankle mobility in order to obtain better deep squat positioning.
In Part 1 you learned that olympic lifts and front squats require more ankle mobility than a back squat or deadlift. That's because the torso needs to be more vertical in these lifts to keep from dumping the weight forward. And in order to keep the torso vertical, the knees have to travel forward which requires adequate motion at the ankles. We call this motion ankle dorsiflexion and below is the test we learned for it, so hopefully now you know if it's a problem for you or not.
If you were limited here and couldn't reach the wall, there are two common reasons:
If you are in the first camp and feel a block or pinch in the front of the ankle, here are a couple mobilizations to try:
In addition to helping to improve ankle dorsiflexion, this next exercise can also help you to keep your knees out when you squat.
If you are in the second camp and feel more resistance in the calf, here is a great exercise for that:
If you've been stretching your calves for years and feel like you go right back to being tight again minutes after you stretch, this may be just the exercise for you.
A 2012 systematic review by O'Sullivan et. al. looked at the effects of eccentric training on lower limb flexibility and found "consistent,strong evidence" for increased range of motion and muscle flexibility in all the muscle groups they studied following an eccentric training protocol. The most likely mechanism for this increase in range of motion is that the mild muscle damage caused by eccentric training actually causes muscle adaptations where new structural units of muscle (called sarcomeres) are created in series, thereby increasing the length and flexibility of the muscle.
HOW COOL IS THAT!
But that's not all...eccentric training also improves length-tension and peak torque which can actually help to prevent many common muscle/tendon injuries!
Last point here...it's important to follow these exercises up with loaded movements to help you maintain the range of motion that you gained. Goblet squats are a great option here (Part 2). Really focus on keep your torso upright, pulling your knees forward a bit, and driving your knees out.
That's all for now folks!
Joby Philip, PT, DPT