How To Squat Properly
Fix your squat with better ankle mobility
The back squat is one of the fundamental movements we should all be doing in the gym. It is a compound exercise that works the big lower body muscles namely the quads, glutes and hamstrings. There are different variations of how one can perform a squat namely goblet squat, front squat and back squat. Not one squat is exactly the same but there are a number of properties that determine a good squat which, include spinal extension, hip mobility and ankle dorsiflexion. In this article, we are going to discuss how to fix your squat with ankle dorsiflexion, how to test it and a few exercises you can do to improve the range in your ankle so that you can squat to a greater depth.
Ankle dorsiflexion is when we actively pull our toes up towards us or when we push our knee forwards while our foot is on the ground. This makes the angle between the shin and the foot become smaller. The smaller the angle between the toes and the shin, the better one’s dorsiflexion. When you have poor ankle dorsiflexion and try to squat, you might not be able to go down below parallel or even if you do squat down to below parallel, your heels might lift off the floor and the weight will transfer on the forefoot. A good test for ankle dorsiflexion is the knee to wall test. Take your shoes off and start by placing your foot relatively close to the wall with your toes pointing to the wall. Then, while keeping your heel on the ground, try to reach your knee to the wall in front of you. Keep moving your foot back, reaching for the wall with your knee until you cannot anymore. A distance of 10-12cm between your toes and the wall is a good score for dorsiflexion.
THE VIDEO: How To Squat Properly
A few exercises that you can do to improve your dorsiflexion are described below.
Stretch your calf and soleus
- Knee to wall test: The knee to wall test described above can be used as a stretch in itself. Make sure you hold the knee to the wall for a few seconds each time. Do around 2-3 x 10 reps.
- Stair stretch: Place the ball of your foot on a step while pushing your heel down. This stretches your calf. If you bend your knee it will also, stretch your soleus. Hold it for 30s.
- Down dog heel walks.
- Roll your calves with a foam roller. Any hard ball or barbell can be used to loosen out any knots. Once you find a tender sport hold it there for around 30s and then move on.
Ankle mobilisation and distraction
- Start in a half kneeling lunge position. Then, push your knee over your toes while, keeping your heel on the ground and hold this position for 20-30s. You can advance this by putting a weight on your knee for extra pressure. The same can be done with a band around your ankle pulling from the back. This will separate the joint surfaces from one another and improve how the bones glide on top of each other.
By incorporating these exercises into your training programme, you should see an improvement in your range of motion and consequently, your squat.