Improve your Ankle Mobility and Squat

Ankle mobility is often limited in many individuals. A lack of ankle range of motion can reduce ones ability to squat among other things. Unfortunately typical methods of stretching the calf or foam rolling your calf muscles leads to results that are temporary and less than desirable. I have found these couple drills to be very effective at improving ones ankle mobility. 

The key to this activity is the duration that it is performed which imposes a stress to the joint/tissue and forces it to adapt. The second key to the exercise is the isometric contractions of the muscles around the joint in the end range of motion. This teaches the body how to display control in the outer limits of its current mobility. 

A pattern that rehab professionals will often strive to improve when working on ankle mobility is the squat. The rules of specificity would say that we would then need to squat with the newly acquired ankle range of motion. I like this drill as it imposes similar stresses as the exercise above, but it is done with a squatting movement.

Give it a try and see what you think. Don't forget to test the squat before the exercises, then after the exercises and see if you feel or see a noticeable difference.


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About the Author: Dr. Greg Schaible is a physical therapist and strength coach specializing in athletic performance. He attended The University of Findlay as a student athlete. As an athlete he competed in both Indoor and Outdoor Track & Field where he earned honors as a 5x Division II All-American and 6x Division II Academic All-American. In 2013 he completed Graduate School earning his Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT). Greg is the owner of On Track Physical Therapy in Ann Arbor, Mi. Follow On Track PT and Performance on Facebook.

Box Squat with Single Leg Concentric

Last week I contributed this exercise to the article: Great Exercises You're Not Doing. In case you missed it, here is the summary below.

Want to improve your squat without your knees and hips always feeling so beat down. We all know squats are important for performance. However, performing heavy squats multiple times per week can become brutal on your joints. The box squat with a single leg concentric is an excellent way to still train the squatting pattern with high effort, but utilizing a lighter load that decreases the compressive stress on the joints.

How to perform the exercise: Set up a bench/box to an appropriate height/skill that allows you to squat to a depth of near parallel. Squat down to the box. Move one leg in closer towards mid-line, and extend the opposite leg out keeping the heel on the ground. Subtly shift your sternum toward the working leg, and push through the entire foot to stand up tall. Repeat on one leg for desired number of reps before performing on opposite side.

When performing the exercise you may notice that one side feels much easier than the other. You may also notice that one knee displays greater control or balance on one side compared to another. These are a couple of asymmetries you will want to improve upon prior to increasing the amount of weight you put on the bar.

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