Stiff Ankles and the Squat

Stiff ankles can be a pain when it comes to squatting.
 
Many people think that they need to improve this motion prior to even stepping under a loaded barbell.
 
While this may be true for variations such as the overhead squat and front squat, even with limited ankle mobility, you can try a few things that will allow you to squat safely. 

Here are 3 tips that can help.

Turn Your Toes Out
Turning your toes out reduces the amount of ankle dorsiflexion needed, allowing you to get deeper, even with limited ankle mobility. Squatting with your toes straight forward isn’t for everyone, and especially not for those with limited ankle mobility.   

Wear a Heeled Lifting Shoe

Wearing a heeled lifting shoe allows you to start the squat in a bit of ankle plantar flexion, so you can still get your knees forward enough without having to go into as much dorsiflexion. While some may say wearing a lifting shoe is “cheating” I’d rather get people squatting sooner rather than later! There’s no evidence to say that wearing a lifting shoe puts you at any increased risk of injury either!   

Squat With a Low Bar Position

In a correct low back squat, the barbell rests just on a muscular shelf created by the rear deltoids. This is often a little lower than most people place it. This low bar position causes your torso to incline a little more forward, limits the amount your knees move forward, and also reduces the ankle dorsiflexion demands.  

Also…did someone say booty gainz?

The low back squat also has the added benefit of increase glute recruitment, just another reason to give this a shot!   

If you’re someone who’s been endlessly performing ankle mobility drills without much success, maybe it’s time to modify the squat instead!

Dr. Michael Mash
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