03/22/2015 at 8:56 am #75870
Don’t get too frustrated, as you’re getting there. You’re past a vertical shin, which is a good start.
The problem with expressing a huge amount of ankle mobility in the squat is that you don’t have much capacity to shift your bodyweight forward, making it hard to overcome the high amounts of stiffness in the calves. You have to get mad supple down there to really see those gains in bodyweight squatting, even though you might be able to get a deeper position if you had weight on your back helping you overcome that resistance.
The banded mob’s are great (and make sure you try with anterior band tension as well, to work on the glides at the ankle), but you’ll probably find you need to spend a lot of time just hammering out some contract-relax stretching and soft tissue work to get those puppies to yield.
Here’s my recommendation for a little ankle-targeted mobility session:
1) Test: You can use the squat here, but I expect the payout will be minimal unless most of your restriction is in the joint capsule. Those gains by stretching may take a while. As an alternative, I would also use the knee to wall test (how far can you move your foot back and still get your knee to the wall over the center of your foot without your heel lifting up?) You can measure this bad body and actually have numbers on how you’re improving, as well as how your squat feels.
2) Banded Mob: If, when you squat or do the knee to wall test, you feel pain/pressure/pinching in the front of your ankle, this should be your first go to. Same goes for if you feel those things when you try to do a calf stretch. The banded mobs are meant to restore the mechanics within the joint itself, which can get messed up if you’ve been stiff for a while.
3) Soft-Tissue Attack: Bone saw, foam roller, whatever. If there are little areas of tenderness or lumpiness in the meat of your calves, go after those first, as conventional stretching won’t typically do as much to these knots or areas of high tension.
4) Calf stretching: Conventional against the wall with the knee straight will hit the gastrocs, which will be important (so don’t neglect this), but your real money maker will be the stretches you do with the knee bent for the soleus, as this is the primary muscle limiter of your ankle in the squat. I’m a big fan of the mwod piece from recent years, putting your foot up on a bench, and using your chest to push your knee forward.
Good luck, and just remember that its a bit of a long term process to make good gains in the ankle. Calves are nasty meat.