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Old 06-06-2008, 02:54 PM   #1
Marcus Holden
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Join Date: May 2008
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Default Squat Form and Ankle Mobility

Hey guys, lately, I've been working on two drills: the Third World Squat (http://www.t-nation.com/readArticle.do?id=1856085&cr) and pistol squats. Basically, my form on front squats and overhead squats are really good, but only while wearing olympic shoes (or any shoes with a raised heel). When doing OHS without shoes, I can barely break parallel, so I've been working on these two exercises (mainly the deep third world squat), but have hit a wall.

When doing the third world squat in shoes, I can sit deep without any problem for minutes at a time. However, when I try to do them without shoes, I have to lean really far forward to balance myself. When I do them without shoes, I can sit really deep, but I have to me holding onto something in front of me, like a power rack. I've practiced this for a few weeks, and stretched everything I can think of, but I hit a plateau. Here's my problem: I can't dorsoflex my ankle past a certain point and keep my heel on the ground, so I have to 'sit back' when doing these squats. My knees are in my armpits, my femurs are pressed into my torso - it's got to be my ankles. However, it really, honestly doesn't feel like a flexibility issue - rather, it feels like mobility of the joint. When I try to flex my knee forward and keep my heel on the ground, I don't feel any kind of stretch. Instead, I feel bone on bone - just complete inability to move the joint any further. This immobility is minor - isn't interfering with my life, and I'm sure I have better than average overall mobility/flexibility, but I'd really like to be able to break parallel on OHS without relying on shoes. Is it possible to just be structurally incapable? Does the sensation I'm experiencing (no stretch in the muscle - just a hard stop) mean I've hit a structural limit, or is there something I can do about it?

Thanks in advance for the help.
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Old 06-06-2008, 03:21 PM   #2
Steven Low
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Join Date: Mar 2007
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I have a very similar problem because I sprained my ankle badly and elected not to go to PT. Of course, at the time I didn't know I was supposed to stretch it out pretty much right away to regain mobility especially before calcification occurred in the joint. So my left ankle is like minus 10 degrees plantar flexion and dorsiflexion. Very tough to get my knees over my toes very far without the bone on bone grinding like you said Marcus.

Would be interested to hear some ideas for this.
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Old 06-06-2008, 04:05 PM   #3
Garrett Smith
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Posts: 4,368


You may want to find a chiropractor who does extremity adjusting and see if there are any fixations that can be adjusted out.

Foot drills.

Ankle flexion mobility drills. See this article for some, Z-Health is also a great place to learn them from. There are some YouTube videos on basic mobility drills, some of them are on this page.

You may already have done or are doing some of the above. If so, you may be stuck with a problem that isn't the end of the world. Simply keep squatting in shoes--better to squat than not!
Garrett Smith NMD CSCS BS, aka "Dr. G"
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Old 06-06-2008, 04:46 PM   #4
Derek Weaver
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Join Date: Nov 2007
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I also think that Cressey has done some ankle stuff on T-Nation... or maybe he's more of a hip and shoulder guy.

I'll look and see what I can find and post.
And if you don't think kettleball squat cleans are difficult, I say, step up to the med-ball
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Old 06-06-2008, 09:11 PM   #5
Allen Yeh
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Mike Boyle had a ankle mobility drills I liked which I do on a regular basis because of a 2nd degree sprain in my right ankle back in 2004.

The foot mobility drils are great as well.

Greg had one where you in Oly shoes just squat down and shift your weight from side to side. I know this is not the most descriptive but I can't think of how else to say this.
"And for crying out loud. Don't go into the pain cave. I can't stress this enough. Your Totem Animal won't be in there to help you. You'll be on your own. The Pain Cave is for cowards.
Pain is your companion, don't go hide from it."
-Kelly Starrett
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Old 06-06-2008, 10:56 PM   #6
Steven Low
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Ah, well, for me at least the one thing that is the problem is if I stretch it (mainly soleus type stretches), it starts to swell up again and hurts to walk. So I really don't think I'm going to get back my mobility again unless I can figure something out that works.
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