Daily Mobility Exercises by Dr. Kelly Starrett Forums General Perfect overhead squat when heels elevated.

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    • #70945
      Luke EverettLuke Everett

      So I did the FMS test. The close grip overhead squat was very difficult. During the second phase were you elevated the heels I had perfect form with no restriction! I could even squat twice as low as my air squat. It was only about a 2 in elevation. 

      Anyone know what I can work on to make the elevated heel squat my normal squat? 
    • #74655
      AvatarKatie Hemphill

      Hey Nakoa,

      This points pretty strongly towards ankle restriction. Basically, by putting your heels on the board you keep the ankle in a more plantar flexed (toes pointed) position than would be demanded if you were in a deep squat with your feet flat. You need more dorsilfexion, and you need it yesterday!
      The bugger is that restrictions around the ankle, especially all that crummy calf meat, can take a fair amount of time and work to clear up. So if you’re going to take a stab at fixing this, make sure you consistently put in some quality mobility time until things are where you want them to be. You need to attack this thing from every angle: 
      Joint Capsule / Muscle Dynamics / Soft Tissue Combo Episode
      Soft Tissue: THE BONE SAW!!!
      This barely touches the iceberg of ankle awesomeness that exists on this site. You should probably check out the new mwod pro series on the foot and ankle as well that was just posted with Jami and Roop. Good luck!
    • #74656

      So, it points ‘strongly’ towards ankle restriction.  Does that mean there are people who couldn’t even get into that position if their hips were an issue?  

    • #74657

      Actually I am going to go out on a limb and theorize that mostly anybody with their heels raised will be able to squat down.  I know some people with very tight hips that can easily get in squat position with raised heels.  

    • #74660
      AvatarNathan Richer

      As a guy who went through FMS level 1 and 2, i can say that people can fail the squat test even with heels raised. Even giving that much slack into their system isn’t enough because of more severe problems in the hips/legs/ankles or other problems elsewhere like in the t-spine and shoulders.  Also remember the FMS squat test also tests holding the pole overhead in proper position as well and not just the ability to get your ass to heels.

    • #74664
      AvatarKatie Hemphill

      David Shen, layin’ down wisdom FMS style.

      Yeah, Daniel, if the hip (or t-spine, etc) restrictions in squatting are significant enough then the individual could indeed find themselves unable to squat properly with the heel raised. They still might be able to squat down in a general sense, but lack many of the indicators of quality that we’re looking for in a strength and conditioning environment, like midline stability (flat lower back, braced core, etc).

      It could, of course, have a lot to do with motor control issues in the squat, which is a big part of what the FMS is screening. You give some general guidelines on how to perform the screen, but the movements are not coached. I believe what would constitute a score of “1” on the FMS, which means the movement is not suitable to be trained, would be failure to keep the angle of the trunk and arms parallel to the shins throughout the range of motion, which would be what happened if the back rounded.

      With the FMS deep squat screen you also have to consider overhead mobility as well, so interpreting the screen results involves comparing the movements in the screen for overarching issues. So, if someone failed both their deep squat AND shoulder mobility screens (scored a 0 – pain, or a 1 – super lousy movement), you might find fixing one aids the other.

    • #74667

      Absolutely — and thanks for your responses.  

      I think I meant that the heels raised tests offers so much slack that even with tight hips you can still get into the position.  Now, it may be sloppy  and not fully ideal but it doesn’t truly show hip range of motion it just shows ankle range.  Essentially a heels raised position is how most people get down low.   It sounds like if ankles are so terrible that people haven’t even begun to deal with their hip issues.  In fact, is it even possible to deal with the hips if your ankles are so tight?  Perhaps the hips are not truly as vital for the squat as much as the ankles are.
      I think iron_tiger addressed these question in my post ‘Ankle mob works the best for squatting’
    • #74672
      AvatarKatie Hemphill

      Yeah, it’s not often considered that having the heels raised can help bypass hip ROM issues as well to a degree. 

      I don’t know if his approach to patterning the squat has changed since Athletic Body in Balance, but Gray Cook recommended using a heel-raised squat when beginning to pattern good squat movement for those unable to achieve the desired deep squat position without lots of compensation. In conjunction with this, the individual would be working on mobility, so the board is not simply being used as a crutch.
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