By Physiotherapist, Nate Chan
How to deepen your squat – Ankle Series, Part 1
If you’re like me and find it hard to perform deep squats or go as low as you would like, whether it be for Olympic lifting, powerlifting, running and cutting, or to jump higher, then I have a few tips for you to implement in your program. My ankle mobility tips vary from a few quick and simple wins to long-lasting effects.
The first key area I would explore is the ankle region and its mobility. This is a common problem encountered by many athletes including myself.
The deeper you squat the more knee range of motion is required as your knee travels forward. Mobility in your ankle joint allows your knees to travel forward and over your toes. Thus, ankle mobility is important and could be a limiting factor.
If you have noticed your heels lifting or wanting to lift off the ground the lower you squat, then an ankle mobility limitation is most likely your problem.
A quick test to know if your calves are tight and limiting your ankle mobility is a knee to wall test. This test aims to test your calf and ankle flexibility. The general aim is to achieve greater than 10-12cm away from the wall.
- Stand facing a wall
- Place a ruler or measuring tape on the ground
- Place one leg forward and one leg back
- Keeping your feet flat on the ground push your knees forwards and over your toes to touch the wall. Ensuring your hips are facing forwards.
- If you’re able to do this easily, move your foot away from the wall 1-2cm and repeat trying to touch the knee to the wall
- Repeat until you’re unable to touch the wall with your knee.
- Record the maximum distance you are able to achieve without raising your heel, knee caving inwards (ideally only travelling forward) or a pinch/excessive stretch in the calves.
- Repeat on the other leg
Aim: > 10-12cm from the wall
If you are standing 10-12cm away from the wall and you can’t touch your knees to the wall then you have less than ideal calf and ankle mobility. This would be a target area to optimise and deepen your squat.
To target the calves, you can stretch them before your squat session. However, it won’t be enough because you need to stretch them under load frequently and consistently to hit your ideal squat depth. You can use a trigger point ball or simply stretch them underload. Personally, I find stretching underload more useful.
If you have been doing that with little or no change, then perhaps trying an ankle mobilisation technique to allow the ankle joint to glide smoothly forwards and backward will have a better effect.
Practice, practice, practice, and practice consistently. Here is a drill I use to hone in on my ankle mobility which will transfer to my squats.
Remember: Consistency is key! If that has helped you and your squats. Stay tuned for Part 2 where we will discuss the importance of hip mobility. If you have additional questions, give us a call at 8599 9811 to speak with one of our physios.