Have you ever wanted to know a key to unlocking optimal squat patterns?
Although there are many important parts to a well performed squat, ankle mobility is often a limiting factor for many who aspire to squat to full depth. A common cue for a squat is to “sit your hips between your feet”. However, those with limited dorsiflexion may only be able to sit so far before their hips begin to travel backwards.
This may be also due to poor motor patterns or misinformed guidance to not let your knees travel past your toes which can be assessed under the guidance of a professional. Those who are in tune with their training can also administer a simple self assessment to test dorsiflexion.
To perform this test, stand with your toes 4 inches from a wall (about the distance of the width of 4 fingers) and kneel down on one knee. Then push your knee towards the wall while maintaining heel contact with the ground and keep the knee pushed in the direction the toes are pointed.
Adequate dorsiflexion is obtained when your knee is able to reach the wall. If you happen to fall short, there are a few things you can do to begin to improve your dorsiflexion.
First, doing regular stretching and consistent movement that require dorsiflexion will help long term to improve this (stay tuned for examples!). If you are looking for a short term solution, there is a couple of things you can do.
1. Performing stretching of the calf between sets of squats may improve dorsiflexion and provide additional range of motion for your subsequent sets.
2. Weightlifting shoes are a great tool to use to gain some range of motion, thanks to the heel lift, as well as, increased stability from the flat solid soles of the shoes.
Stay tuned for more information on how your body shape and size may impact how you squat!
Comfort P, McMahon JJ, Suchomel TJ. Optimizing squat technique—revisited. Strength & Conditioning Journal. 2018 Dec 1;40(6):68-74.