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Old December 15th, 2013, 09:17 AM
Santosa Santosa is offline
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Question Squats

I am a brand new member so I apologize if I just have not read about this yet. I have limited range of motion in my ankle joints and cannot get my heels down in a full squat. Other than doing railing squats forever, how can I compensate? Is it ok to put something under my heels? I am about an inch away from the floor. Thanks for any help!
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Old December 15th, 2013, 09:34 AM
tjs tjs is online now
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Place something under your heels or get Olympic lifting shoes. Work on your mobility until you can do it without the help.

Or squat down as far as you can before your back starts to round and slowly extend your ROM over time.

Also, are you sure it's an ankle mobility issue? If you stand up against a wall so your toes touch it, can you bend your knee such that your knee touches the wall without your heel coming off the ground?
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Old December 15th, 2013, 03:16 PM
Santosa Santosa is offline
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I can put my toes against a wall and get my knees to touch when I bend them...pretty easily. Does that indicate that the ROM issue might be hip flexion?

Thanks for the help...
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Old December 15th, 2013, 05:38 PM
Benwils Benwils is offline
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Can you touch the wall with your toes moved back? With my "tight" ankle, I can touch a wall with my toes 6" away.

That being said, it definitely could also be a hip mobility issue, stability issue, or even a technique issue.

What are you considering a full squat? All the way down like in olympic lifting, or to parallel like in powerlifting.

If you work agressively on mobility (check youtube for Kelly Starrett's stuff) you should see improvement fairly quick.

A quick way to determine if it's a stability issue is to first squat down holding onto something solid, like a railing. If you can get down, good, next try while holding a weight out in front of you at arms' length. If your mobility greatly improves squatting this way, stability may be your problem.

Lastly, make sure you are squatting properly. Break back with the hips first. If you try squatting straight down, then you will run out of ankle flexion fast and won't get very far. I can normally squat all the way down, but can't even reach parallel if I just break at the knees.

I hope some of this helps. I kind of just quickly threw some things out there because I'm in a hurry right now.

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Old December 22nd, 2013, 06:27 PM
Adam Lloyd Adam Lloyd is offline
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Welcome Santosa, no need to apologize this forum is for exactly this, asking questions and receiving answers.

In my opinion, I'd caution against putting anything under your heels to learn, simply because it reinforces a compensated movement pattern. Olympic lifting shoes may do this to help an experienced lifter gain a little edge in their lift, but that's what their goal is, to lift big!

I suspect you're aiming to improve your range of motion on your squat, not max out on huge lifts (please correct me if I'm wrong here).

To increase ankle mobility try this exercise on a wall http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tHV8C-BT6u0
The key here is to keep your whole foot planted and try to place 80-90% of your weight on the front foot (closest to the wall) when dropping for Ankle Mobility. When performing the second part (calve stretch), also aim to keep the heel planted maintaining whole foot contact. Shoot for 10x each side before performing your squat and see if it provides some benefit for you.

Here's another to build Ankle ROM and strength in the tibialis anterior muscle
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OfOUCkCZNgI
The key here is to aim for ball of foot contact, and only move at the ankle joint, not the knee. Shoot for 50 reps per foot before squatting and see if that helps.

I'll generally have my athletes/clients do these as a part of our dynamic warmup 2-3x per week

Another common reason for heels coming up is forward shift in Center of Mass (COM). Benwils makes a good point in ensuring the first part of your squat starts at the hips, dropping your butt back first, then performing the downward phase of the squat. As you do this, ensure your weight is slightly in the heels, but not too much as to make you fall backwards. Sometimes that happens and that's cool, your brain will remember what that felt like and shouldn't allow you to continue reaching so far back as long as you're being mindful during the movement.
Take a look at this video, it shows the first part (hips back) pretty well
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6kEn47Zjcg

Hope this helps!
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Old December 23rd, 2013, 08:09 PM
Santosa Santosa is offline
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Thanks for all the suggestions...the video links are very helpful. With time, I'll get my heels down. Meanwhile, I'll do what my body will allow while using good form. There's more than one way to skin a cat!
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Old January 1st, 2014, 11:06 PM
misha01 misha01 is offline
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I'm just going to throw this out there to ponder over.

I used to have really tight ankles and couldn't get down in a full squat either. What turned it around for me was moving to Japan and working at a place that only had an older toilet that you had to squat over. Over the 3 years of having to squat to use the toilet, things eventually got better. Part of it was loosening up the ankle, part of it was learning how to squat properly and relax in that position.

Try sitting in a squat a couple of times a day and you might find a foot width and direction that works better for you.
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Old January 2nd, 2014, 06:45 PM
Santosa Santosa is offline
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Thanks misha01...that reply made me smile. Sitting in chairs and not squatting after we pass toddler-hood has set us up for many problems in out culture. And you are so right in that it is what we do consistently every day that really affects us. Squat on!
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