Look, we all know it wasn’t your fault you missed your PB the other day. You were “tired.” You were “hungry.” You have “trashy ankles.” That smoking hot guy/girl walking by “threw you off your game.” Your college professor yelled at you for “belching in class”, when we all know it was Bobby, the savage.
Have you ever made excuses like this that made you feel like a bit of a punk? Well, you might be interested to know that one of those excuses is actually ruining your squats in a significant way.
Trashy Ankles? Your Squats Will Suffer!
Putting it simply, the basic mechanics of squatting involve getting your glutes to your boots. If you’re missing full range of motion in your ankles, achieving a deep squat position isn’t just hard; it’s impossible.
A healthy ankle should have:
- Dorsiflexion – Closing the angle between your foot and your shin
- Extension – Opening the angle between your foot and your shin
If your ankles don’t have adequate range of motion in either flexion or extension you WILL encounter problems like:
- Limited Dorsiflexion – Loss of Balance and inward collapsing (valgus) ankles
- Limited Extension – Difficulty keeping feet neutral and loss of torque development needed for power
You may also like: Crawling Exercises
How to Test if You Have Trashy Ankles
There are two simple tests, made famous by mobility guru Kelly Starrett you can use to test the range of motion in your ankles:
1) Pistol Squat Test
- Sit into a deep squat position
- Extend one leg in front of you and try to balance
If you find that your ankle is collapsing, your heel is rising off the ground, or you’re losing balance, you may have limited dorsiflexion.
2) Ankle Wall Test
- Stand tall with your feet together
- Squat down making sure to keep your back as straight as possible
If you find your feet start to pivot and open as you squat, you may have limited extension. If you lose balance and fall backward, you may have limited dorsiflexion.
How to Fix Your Trashy Ankles
Below are three mobility exercises you can use to help clean up ‘dem trashy trash bags you call your ankles.
1) Banded Ankle Distractions
- Loop one end of a resistance band around your ankle and the other to a sturdy structure
- Face away from the band so that it’s pulling against your ankle
- Pulse in and out with your knee towards your toes and let the band pull your ankle into flexion
2) Calf Smash
- Sit on the ground with your legs crossed
- Push a lacrosse ball into the midline of the inside of your calf
- Roll your foot in all direction to loosen up the musculature of the calf
3) Heel Cord Smash
- Sit on the ground with your legs extended in front of you
- Place a foam roller under one leg, just above your Achilles tendon
- Stack your other leg on top for added pressure and wave your foot side to side, massaging your heel cord