Often times when somebody has a sub-par barbell squat the immediate problem places to which everyone looks is almost always the hips. And there is a good reason for this. Most people have awful hip mobility which infringes upon having a good squat. But where do you go with your hips are fine? The ankles, of course. For a some, it is even wise to look at the ankles first, and then go to the hips depending on their athletic history. Even the slightest amount of hypo-mobility in your ankle joint can affect everything you do, even outside of your squat. If you need a good example of this, put on a high-top shoe on one foot and a low top shoe on the other foot. Then go for a walk. See if you can spot the difference.
In fact, the way your build can even affect your ankle mobility. If you look at the differences in gait between an obese person and a non-obese person you will see a stark difference if you look at their feet. To that end, no matter what size you are, we want all the motions of the ankle to be strong AND mobile. So before we get into the exercises, let’s take a look at the motions of the ankle.
- Inversion— if you’ll recall, the midline is the imaginary line that separates our left and right half. When you direct the bottom of your foot to point at the midline, this is inversion. Another term for it is pronation of the foot.
- Eversion— the exact opposite of inversion, eversion is where you point the bottom of your foot away from your midline.
- Plantar Flexion— if you have small calves, you’re no doubt familiar with this motion. Plantar flexion is the act of increasing the angle between the top of your foot and shin, as in a calf raise or standing on your tip-toes.
- Dorsiflexion— the act of decreasing the angle between the top of the foot and the shin such as in the bottom position of the squat.
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