Ankle Mobility

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JGP718

Level 2 Valued Member
hello all,

I have had an FMS done and yet again my deep Squat is poor and I have very limited ankle dorsiflexion in my left ankle. I have been trying a number of different things to help this improve with limited success. Right ankle is fine. I have foam rolled, used a massage stick, and various stretches. Just looking for anyone else out there that has found some succes mobilizing the ankles and what drills you’ve used to do it.

Thanks
 

Oscar

Level 6 Valued Member
My deep squat has improved a lot the last few years. I have done so many things I don't even know what worked. In the future i want it to improve to the point where I can sit and rest at the bottom of the squat. This is what i will do:

- barbell ankle stretch. While doing it, rock in the position using solely the strength of the ankle extensors and flexors, so they get strong at this range of motion.

-immediately after, sit in the deep squat with raised heels. Rock there in a similar manner for about 2 min.

- immediately after, sit in the deep squat, without raised heels. Hold for a few minutes.

-repeat a few times.

I have done this drill a few times with good results
 

Antti

Level 8 Valued Member
The barbell ankle stretch, that @Oscar mentioned, is the means to the most comfortable squatting in the low position I've ever done. I could sit in the hole for ages with the barbell on my thighs by my knees. I think it's the best stretch for the squat.

Apart from the aforementioned, I think the real deal, of the squat with a heavy weight on me, itself has significantly improved my mobility. I think mobility training is alike to strength training: nothing beats specific training. And doing it with a heavy weight really seems to accelerate the progress.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 7 Valued Member
The Deck Squat as demo'd by Steve Maxwell was a big help for me. I mostly use the loaded version but the unloaded version is great as well.

For really tight folks he recommended starting on all fours with toes curled forward, slowly push back and rock up onto your feet in a low squat with tailbone as low as possible. Rock/drop forward back to all fours, and repeat a few times - do this daily. Once you can do this with relative ease, start executing from a standing position.



 

305pelusa

Level 6 Valued Member
@JGP718 :You should probably do whatever @North Coast Miller personally does. His ankle mobility is just bananas.

Don't have anything to add except to see if Miller wants to share anything else he did. I've done my fair share of deck squats, but always unloaded. I thought that would require more mobility. So you're saying loaded is even better?
 

North Coast Miller

Level 7 Valued Member
@JGP718 :You should probably do whatever @North Coast Miller personally does. His ankle mobility is just bananas.

Don't have anything to add except to see if Miller wants to share anything else he did. I've done my fair share of deck squats, but always unloaded. I thought that would require more mobility. So you're saying loaded is even better?

Loaded is better, definitely.

Lighter KBs and higher velocity bringing it forward make it easier to get into the squat, so you don't have to be as low. As the load goes up and speed goes down you really have to pause at the bottom and take a shorter distance to get into the squat.

Once you get to that point, whatever your ankle mobility it should be maxed out to your balance point. You can only go so low.

Making use of the rocking back from all fours is a great primer. You know you're getting close when you can stop and just hang out for a few.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 7 Valued Member
The last thing I can think of that I used to do a lot of and probably helped quite a bit with ankle mobility - duck walks.
I used to do them on the wife's elliptical trainer to make it more difficult, but just doing them for count, stand, drop back down and repeat. A solid exercise in their own right.
 

Shahaf Levin

Level 5 Valued Member
I have had an FMS done and yet again my deep Squat is poor and I have very limited ankle dorsiflexion in my left ankle.
How do you know it is poor dorsiflexion? The deep squat pattern by itself cannot blame ankle mobility. If it is pure ankle mobility it will impair your inline lung as well, and maybe hurdle step and other patterns. FMS has couple of dorsiflexion test, SFMA and common PT practices has more. If you mobilize your ankle and it does not work it might not be a mobility problem but a motor control issue.

Just my 2 cents...

If it is mobility I would go with Kelly Starrett stuff
 

TravisS

Level 5 Valued Member
How do you know it is poor dorsiflexion? The deep squat pattern by itself cannot blame ankle mobility. If it is pure ankle mobility it will impair your inline lung as well, and maybe hurdle step and other patterns. FMS has couple of dorsiflexion test, SFMA and common PT practices has more. If you mobilize your ankle and it does not work it might not be a mobility problem but a motor control issue.

Just my 2 cents...

If it is mobility I would go with Kelly Starrett stuff
exactly... check out the squat test video above from Kelly. He mentions determining if your ankle is limiting your squat by using the pistol. If you can get into the pistol shape without falling over then your ankle isn't the problem.
 

Oscar

Level 6 Valued Member
exactly... check out the squat test video above from Kelly. He mentions determining if your ankle is limiting your squat by using the pistol. If you can get into the pistol shape without falling over then your ankle isn't the problem.
That video is interesting, but I´m not sure I agree with all it says.

The test he suggests can certainly rule out a lack of ankle dorsiflexion, but it is a pretty demanding test. It will not be a useful test for somebody who cant still reach the bottom of a bodyweight squat. The dorsiflexion required to hold the bottom of a pistol in that manner is way beyond the dorsiflexion required for a bodyweight squat.

Also, for reasons I still dont understand he squats with parallel feet, and considers a toe-out stance a symptom of lack of dorsiflexion. I personally dont think that parallel feet is a requirement for a proper squat.
 
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KIWI5

Level 3 Valued Member
Forgive the ignorance..what is the barbell ankle stretch? The deck squat looks fantastic..can't wait to try this move.
 
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wespom9

Level 6 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
I of course agree with @Shahaf Levin , who has a great understanding of the FMS screen and principles. If multiple patterns involving the ankle show a 1/0, then we have reason to look at it. Otherwise, we have evidence it's a motor control issue within the deep squat or symmetrical stance pattern.

Kelly Starrett's stuff is good. Some banded distractions have worked well for me and my own limited right ankle.
The Steve Maxwell stuff looks nice.
I love Mike Boyle's go to ankle mobility stuff - the knee to wall rocks, and the leg swings.

Regarding the leg swings, taken from an old T-Nation article Boyle wrote in '07:
"To perform leg swings stand 2-3 feet from the wall beginning on the right foot. Hands are on the wall at shoulder height. While keeping the right foot pointing straight ahead, swing the left leg in a pendular motion from side to side.

Many may recognize this as a groin/ hip mobility exercise. However if the athlete concentrates on keeping the right foot straight ahead, the swing leg begins to drive a rotary force into the right ankle. It's the same old exercise we've done for years brought back with a different purpose.

Do ten reps and then switch feet"
 

rickyw

Level 6 Valued Member
In addition to the great comments already made you may consider having a manual physio or chiro check the following if your mobility work is not working:
1) restricted posterior glide of the talus
2) restricted anterosuperior glide of the fibula
3) weak hip abductors and external rotators

Loss of accessory joint play at the talus or fibula will not respond well to classic mobility work and will need more specific therapy. Weak hip abductors and external rotators will cause tightening of the soleus/gastroc complex and will render your mobility work only temporarily successful.

Good luck!
 
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