The ability to squat is a functional and pertinent aspect to every day life. It becomes even more important for CrossFit athletes and weight lifters. These athletes are squatting all the time! But sometimes our ability to squat to normal depth is limited by tightness/restrictions in one or multiple joints in the lower extremities (hips, knees, ankles).
Today we will address limitations at the ankle joint. Most specifically, dorsiflexion of the ankle. Simply stated, dorsiflexion (DF) is the action of raising the top of the foot towards the shin. In a squat, where the foot is stationary on the ground, DF is the action of the shin moving towards the top of the foot.
So how do you know if you have enough DF for a normal squat? See the video below for an easy test.
In this self-assessment, you should be able to touch your knee to the wall without your heel coming off the ground. If you cannot touch the wall with your knee then your DF is limited and you will likely be compensating or limited when performing a squat. You may only be limited on one side, but remember in a squat you can only go as far as your most limited side!
If you failed the self-assessment test, DON’T WORRY! It can be fixed. See the video below on one of my favorite ways to improve DF mobility.
Here is a link to some other DF mobility exercises. If you had restrictions with the self-assessment, I recommend you perform these exercises daily for at least 4-6 weeks. Be sure to re-test throughout the process to see if you are making improvements!
If you are not seeing any changes OR you are having pain with these exercises, I recommend you get a full evaluation from a physical therapist to directly address your specific problem so you can get back to squatting!
Thanks for reading.
Andy Johnson PT, DPT, OCS