Daily Mobility Exercises by Dr. Kelly Starrett Forums Foot/Ankle Ankle mob works the best for squatting

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    • #70943
      Avatar[email protected]

      There are some things I was thinking were limiting factors in my squat.

      I feel restriction in my right hip on Olympic wall squat — I am trying to solve it with adductor mobs.  But will this really not allow me to squat with feet straight?
      Waking up in the morning I feel that my quads are tight especially after a squatting session and even if I do a cool down of smashing my quads with the battle star.  The majority of the day I feel like my quads are tight and this has me thinking I am quad dominate.  
      Because I am quad dominate, I theorize that my hamstrings are weak/too flexible and my glutes are not fully firing.   
      With all this said, the best mob that helps me get into a squat is mobilizing my ankles.  
      I was always focusing upstream because I wanted to make sure that my hips were taken care of before anything.  
      I can put weight under my heels and squat easily, but I always thought that was just showing that my ankles were bad, but was not a test of what my hip range of motion is.
      Also, I can get my knees ahead of toes which i thought was enough ROM for a squat.  Maybe I am not measuring correctly?  I just find it odd that out of all the banded distractions focusing on hip flexors/internal rotation/external rotation  that the ankle mob shows the most results.  
      So all in all.  The test and retest show that my ankles are a major limitation — Should I focus solely on downstream stuff now? — anybody have any theories on how to tackle this?    
      Edit to add:  It is also interesting to note — I can feel where I am tight upstream more so when I mobilize my ankles first.  What I haven’t seen anybody say is that sometimes you need to address downstream issues before you can truly feel upstream issues.  Is there any validity in that?
    • #74652

      Is there a coach at your gym that can help you?
      Sounds like you need to address your quads more than once a day. As the situation improves you won’t need to spend as much time, but in the beginning your body needs the reminders.
      Placing a weight under your heel creates slack in the system which is why you can squat easily with a weight under your heel.
      Everyone is different some people may have upstream restrictions some may have downstream restrictions some have both. Address where you will see the most change first.
      Have you watched Roop and Jami’s ankle& hip adventure 5 part series?
      Free Your Heel, Free Your Mind
      Ankle Positional Fault Fix: Jill Miller Style
      Episode 303: Going Around The Ankle at MBSC
      Episode 285: Sliding Surfaces; Ankle Range of Motion Case Study Part 1
      Episode 285: Sliding Surfaces; Ankle Range of Motion Case Study Part 2

    • #74653
      Avatar[email protected]


      Yeah I did some ankle stuff — it seems to help as I think I have tight ankles.  Remember, this is also based on time as well.  I can squat with a lot better form if I address my ankles first which helps reduce time.  I am just wondering if putting weight under heels and squatting truly only shows restrictions in the ankles — for the hips its not really a test — unless of course it shows that my hips are fine and maybe I shouldn’t be truly focusing on them.  Again I am under the impression I should focus upstream and then down stream.  
    • #74654

      You address where you will see the biggest change first.
      Do you have restriction at the hip?
      If addressing your ankle first works then do it.
      Placing a weight under your heel changes upstream positioning at the hip.
      Here is one that can give you more info on hips vs ankles
      Squat Quick Test: Is it Tight Ankles or Tight Hips? | Community Video

    • #74665
      AvatarKatie Hemphill

      Hey Daniel,

      Interesting insight on the freedom of downstream issues allowing one to become aware of upstream issues. I suspect there is some truth in that. In closed chain movements (where you move your body around a fixed limb, like the squat), the mobility issues furthest downstream will be the first to throw off your pattern. If your ankles are tight, they will automatically block any squat pattern that demands a significant amount of ankle dorsiflexion (knees forward). If your wrists are stiff (you’re missing extension), you’re going to have a hard time even getting into a good position to start a push-up.

      But I’d say this probably only holds true in movements that demand a significant range of motion contribution from distal joints. For example, even a slight ankle restriction will make the overhead squat a nightmare, but you can get away with it during the back squat and have no issues, because there is much less ROM demanded from the ankle in this squat iteration.

      I think the more general rule of thumb would be that your greatest restriction in a given movement will be the first restriction to limit your performance. Let’s say my ankles are 5/10 stiff, but my hamstrings are a whopping 9/10 set of steel cables, my hamstrings are probably going to present the biggest roadblock, and therefore the restriction I should target principally in my movement prep.

      Go for your biggest issues first. Upstream and downstream will guide your search, but clearing your most heinous restrictions is how you will get the best ROM payout.

      Also, gotta emphasize again, restoring range of motion and achieving the oh-so-coveted suppleness of the leopard is not an all-or-nothing, overnight battle. You have to see mobility as just another facet of your training, every bit as important as your strength and condition, and underscoring every movement you make. It’s very important, but it takes great time and consistency over that time to make real change and restore normalcy. Have patience, take the small improvements as they come, and recognize that this is just as much a long term journey as getting stronger, faster, and more skilled is.

    • #74668
      Avatar[email protected]

      Yeah I totally understand this is not an over night thing.  I think the hardest part is that the changes are so small that you don’t notice over time.  I remember when I couldn’t get into the couch stretch on my right leg, but once I was able to I haven’t been able to truly measure the progress as it has been so small with out any real way to document it.   I remember I couldn’t step on a ball and smash my foot without pain, and now I can do it without an issue.   When I started internal rotation distractions I felt muscles changing, but now since I don’t have that feeling anymore its hard to find other spots to make my pattern perfect.

      I am kind of operating in this press and guess system with the test and retest method.  I think my ankles/calves are in that newbie stage where I feel major change occurring — so I stick with it until I don’t feel that major change anymore.   
      Since I started mwod, I have always focused on my ankles.  It just has become to the point where my ankles don’t stay supple for long so I assumed it was an upstream issue and thats why I talk about the hips a lot.  
      Obviously it is a system so I need to stay balanced in the mobs.  I think everything I said in the opening post with my hips are an issue, but I think my ankles are a 9/10 and the rest is something I can deal with — I can however squat, but like you said you don’ t need that much range.
      Again,  Thanks for your insights.
    • #74670
      AvatarKatie Hemphill

      Yeah man, ankles are a freakin’ doozy.

      I typically follow Kelly’s model of pairing mobility work with the training of the day, which helps me make sure I cover a lot of ground and ignore fewer problems, but I’ve found that in order to make considerable gains in certain problem areas I’ve also had to spend additional, consistent, FREQUENT time focusing on them. Ankle mobility has always been a huge issue for me, and only now that I’m working on it pretty intensely several times a week am I noting a marked improvement.
      And it’s still pretty damn minimal and slow, all things considered. Without weight on my back, I just can’t compensate for most of the stiffness in my calves. Years and years of stacked abuse.
      One thing I have found to work really well is to squat down and put a weight plate on one knee. Works really well for stretching that ankle in a squat-specific way. Also, the new mob’s he’s doing where you stretch with the foot raised on a box have allowed me to get a much more effective mobilization than most other ankle stretches I’ve tried.
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