Are Your Ankles Affecting Your Squats?June 26, 2017
Have you ever found yourself cringing at the gym while watching someone perform an exercise wrong?
One of the most common exercises I have seen performed incorrectly is the squat. Squatting is a great functional exercise which requires no equipment and will help tone and lift your glutes. If performed correctly, you will definitely feel the burn. However, I will often times see patients come into the clinic with pain due to repetitive squatting or squatting with poor mechanics.
What is needed for squatting?
Adequate ankle mobility, hip mobility, and thoracic mobility, as well as good core stability.
I want to delve deeper into the importance of ankle mobility for deep squatting since it is a joint that is often forgotten about. Ankle mobility is essential for a good squatting technique as you need about 15 degrees of ankle dorsiflexion in order to squat effectively. If you do not have the full range, you may see these compensations:
1. Foot toeing out – this will cause increased foot pronation resulting in increased tensile stress along the plantar fascia and increased compressive force to the lateral aspect of the ankle.
2. Early heel rise – increases activation of calves and place increased stress along the metatarsals.
3. Anterior weight shift – increases stress to the knees as it will increase muscle activation of the quadriceps
4. Knee valgus (knees diving inward) or femoral/tibial internal rotation – may be associated with increased foot pronation; it also places increased stress to the knees leading to knee pain
5. Increased trunk flexion – decreases gluteal recruitment which leads to overcompensation of lumbar muscles.
6. Decreased depth of squat – this limits the functionality of bending down to reach for items near the floor.
As you can see, these compensations can lead to various injuries including low back pain, knee pain, ankle pain, plantar fascia pain. Do you have enough ankle mobility to perform squats? If not, come in for a free assessment with your physical therapist today!