4 Simple, Effective Ankle Mobility Drills To Improve Your Squats
If you take five minutes to peruse social media and the fitness related hashtags, you’ll quickly come to the realization that A LOT of individuals are training harder and heavier than ever before. Gone are the days of endless hours of cardio on “low-impact” machines. Unfortunately, it also seems that the days of patience and the desire to learn to do things correctly are gone as well. It’s not uncommon to see barbell squats loaded with near maximal weights executed with the knees caving in dramatically, heels leaving the floor and generally a complete breakdown of form and an incredible risk of injury for a few likes from some fake Instagram accounts.
I’m well aware that no one, including myself or any of the clients we work with on a daily basis has perfect mobility. It’s also no surprise that form breakdown is inevitable when working with heavy loads. But, if you do desire to train hard and train heavy as so many of us do, make certain that you’re taking the time to consistently execute the often boring, monotonous and uncomfortable mobility work for two simple reasons.
1. It improves your ability to move with decreased discomfort and express strength in greater ranges of motion which leads to the capacity to move heavier loads.
2. It decreases your risk of injury dramatically.
Here are 4 simple, effective ankle mobility drills that you can incorporate for 5-8 minutes before your lower body training sessions to improve your overall squat performance!
If you missed our blog on determining if you have adequate ankle mobility to squat safely – READ HERE.
Squat Shift Stretch
- I like to start with a mobility drill that incorporate a little bit of movement to get blood flowing to the area that we’re prioritizing
- use a 10-25 lb weight depending on what you can comfortably handle
- lower down to a full ROM squat and place your elbows on top of the thighs, shifting your weight to the side and driving the knee over your toes (exactly as you would need to be able to do during a loaded squat)
- hold for approximately 20-30 seconds per side
- maintain a flat heel, respect your individual range of motion
- you SHOULD feel a stretch in the calf
Banded Ankle Distraction
- use a moderate tension band (like THIS one) and elevate your heel on a weight plate
- the band should be positioned on a downward angle so that it is pulling the heel back while you drive the shin forward (common mistake: simply placing the band on the shin)
- hold for approx. 20-30 seconds followed by 10 slow and controlled reps, driving the knee forward and maintaining contact between your heel and the floor
Foam Roll Calf
- now that the muscle tissue is “primed” from the previous 2 drills, it’s time to foam roll
- 45-60 seconds per calf
- experiment / freestyle with different positions of the foot
Heel Drop Stretch
- this drill can be executed on any stable, elevated surface (ex. step, bench, curb)
- hold for approximately 30-45 seconds per side
- hold on to something for balance
With such an overwhelming interest in barbell training and the showcasing of newly achieved feats of strength, much of the interest is centered around physical performance and little effort seems to be put towards adequate preparation.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t workout with intensity, set PRs and push limits BUT you should be aware of your current setbacks just as much as you are your current strengths.
Further, you should be prioritizing these current hindrances to your performances and taking progressive action towards improving them so that you can mitigate your risk of injury and make greater strength gains in the future!
Committed to your success,