By Physiotherapist, Nate Chan
How to deepen your squat – Ankle Series Pt 2
For those following here is Part 2 of the ankle series to improve your squat depth. If you’re like me and find it hard to perform deep squats or go as low as you would 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 second round of ankle tips revolve around strength and mobility.
Firstly, let’s address the unknown and neglected muscle, the tibialis anterior.
Over the years, I have found the tibialis anterior muscle important in improving ankle dorsiflexion. The main function of this muscle is to dorsiflex and stabilise the foot and ankle. When this muscle contracts it pulls the foot upwards to the shin. If you don’t have enough of this movement, generally you either begin to lift the heels off the ground as you deepen the squat or lose stability in the foot and ankle. This changes the tracking of the knees, generally leading to knee valgus (knees caving in) and reduces the hip/glute power to push out and down into the platform. Effectively, losing your squat form or leading to issue up the kinetic chain (mainly knee and hip injuries).
Here is an exercise to help strengthen this muscle and allow it to do its job.
Standing hip flexion and tib anterior strengthening exercises
Theraband ankle inversion strengthening exercises
Another muscle often forgotten is the tibialis posterior. Yes, it sounds very similar to the first muscle I named, tibialis anterior. Except this muscle sits further back in relation to the foot and ankle, hence posterior. This muscle is designed to keep your foot strong and stable during the squatting movement.
The function of the tibialis posterior during a squat is to maintain an arch on the inside of the foot. The moment you lose the arch, you lose foot and ankle stability and squat technique. Once again this muscle can contribute to injuries up or down the kinetic chain. A loss of stability in the foot may lead to knees caving in the lower half of the squat placing further stress on the hips, glutes and low back.
Here is an example of some exercises to strengthen this muscle:
Today’s keynote: Strong and stable foundation!