3 Exercises to Improve Your Ankle Mobility for Squats

Photo: Stocksy/Santi Nunez
There are a handful of different factors that allow you to do deep squats with great form. Without good ankle mobility, though, it's nearly impossible to properly sit back and get low into your squats. Lack of decent flexibility means you're potentially hurting yourself by putting too much pressure on the wrong body parts, like your knees.

"Plainly put, you're going to load the wrong muscles with inefficient ankle mobility," says Maillard Howell, owner of Dean CrossFit and founder of The Beta Way. "In an efficient squat, your ankle flexes correctly on the descent of the hips and your shin bones hinge at the ankle correctly. In an inefficient squat, the ankle is unable to flex on the descent of the hips and the shin bone is unable to hinge and remains vertically 'locked.' As a result, the body tends to lean forward when squatting. Essentially, a less efficient squat is a weaker squat."

3 exercises that help improve ankle mobility for squats

1. Calf mashing

What you need: foam roller

  1. Sit on the floor.
  2. Work your way from the ankle all the way up the calf muscle, using the foam roller to apply pressure.
  3. This helps improve dorsiflexion in the squat.

2. Elevated stretch

What you need: small weight plates or a low elevated surface

  1. Elevate the toes/balls of the feet on small plates while keeping your heels planted on the floor.
  2. Push your knees forward and hold for 10 to 15 seconds at a time.
  3. Release and repeat. You're forcing the flexion in this position.

3. Kettlebell stretch

What you need: kettlebell

  1. Get onto one knee at a time. The "working" knee should be up, and the resting knee is on the floor.
  2. Place a kettlebell on the working knee and apply some pressure while keeping your heel flat on floor and pushing the knee forward past the toes.
  3. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds, then rest. Repeat.

This is the right way to do a squat, according to a trainer:

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