MOVEMENT TIPS – How to Fix Your Ankle and Calf Mobility For Squatting

Improve your squat now with these handy tips.

Do you have a butt wink when you squat?  This is when your lower back rounds under at the bottom of your squat.

  • Do you need to wear lifters to maintain good form while squatting? 
  • Struggle to get deep in your squat and also stay engaged? 
  • Unable to get a deep squat? 

Take a look at those ankles and calves!  Limited ankle and calf mobility is a very common factor in poor squat form.

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#DeepSquats 🏋️‍♂️ Do you have limited squat depth? Do you have a butt wink in your squat? A calf muscle called the soleus can be a limiting factor in your squat depth if it is tight. This video is meant to show you guys why a heel lift helps to quickly improve your squat depth (but isn’t your final answer). . . You guys will ask, “well how do I improve my calf flexibility then?!?” The best thing to do to improve your ankle/calf mobility is to sit in a deep squat for several minutes every day… for months. Start with a heel lift and consider even holding onto something to keep you upright. Simply sitting in the bottom of a squat will strengthen the weak muscles around the ankle and hip while loosening the tight muscles. As it gets easier to sit in the bottom of a squat, reduce the height of the heel lift. Rinse and repeat until you are barefoot and sitting in a deep squat with an upright torso. Generally, at the bottom of a squat, the shin and torso should be close to parallel with each other, but everyone is a little different. Make sure to keep your weight in your heels. . . The process of improving mobility and strength around a joint takes months. You guys often ask for the quickest fix, but the truth is that it takes time to make a lasting change. You can do gnarly calf stretches (that we have made videos for many times), but ultimately, sitting in a squat position while you work, relax, workout, eat, etc is a great way to improve your mobility. . . Get to work. . . Barbell = @jacquelinemonroe 📹 by @theautomaker 💻Written by Andrew Dettelbach @MoveUShirtlessDude 🤪 ▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃ 🌐Want more help from us? The MoveU online program allows us to help people all over the world. Learn more, and begin improving today at, or simply click the link in our bio.🌐 . . #MoveU #FixYoShit #Squat #Glutes #SquatChallenge #squatting #anklemobility #calfmobility #calf #gluteworkout

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Set up your phone in the gym and take a video of yourself squatting.  Notice the depth and look for that rounding under on the lower back/butt at the bottom (butt wink).  Pay attention to how upright you are able to remain.  Do your knees collapse inward?  Are you able to keep your core engaged throughout the entire squat?  Make note of all of these answers.   

Now take a few minutes to do the following:

-Do some calf stretches. Check out the stretches in this video.

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Tight calves or achilles pain? 😭Tag someone who complains about calf, achilles, plantar fascia, or shin pain! In this video, we are putting a little spin on a stretch that many of you probably already do. Instead of just simply stretching the calf muscles (specifically the gastrocnemius in this video), work on activating it and stretching different angles. Thank you @NatalieJillFit for taking your skin off and demoing your calves! . . This is a classic calf and hamstring stretch where you lay on your back, list a leg and keep the knee straight, put a strap around the ball of the foot, and pull your foot toward your chest. This is great and all, but we have found stretching to be significantly more effective if you focus on activating a muscle for a few seconds, then stretching it. This goes for any muscle in the body… activate it, then stretch it, then activate it again, then stretch it again, repeat. This technique has an insanely nerdy name called proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF). In other words… contract and relax stretching. . . Calves can tighten up for a variety of reasons. One common reason is that people often have a subtle forward weight shift (not usually as crazy as the one I demo) that puts most of their weight over their forefoot, causing the calves to have to overactive to keep you from falling forward. . . Focusing on activating the arches of your feet, shifting your pelvis back so that your weight is more over your heels, finding your neutral pelvis, pulling your rib boobs down into your belly, getting your shoulders pulled down, and head shifted back into position are the ultimate ways to reduce calf tightness for many people. Overuse from sport, poor shoes with big heel lifts, heels, and improper running technique can be other causes of calf tightness. . . Calf Art by @AshleyKayArt 📹 by @theautomaker 💻Written by Andrew Dettelbach @MoveUShirtlessDude 🤪 ▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃ 🌐Want more help from us? The MoveU online program allows us to help people all over the world. Learn more, and begin improving today at, or simply click the link in our bio.🌐

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Keeping the knee straight, as in the video, will target the gastrocnemius and keeping a bend in the knee will hit the soleus. 

Do the exercise each way so you hit both muscles.  If you do not have a band to do this with you can substitute a jump rope, a belt, a long towel, etc.  Now grab a foam roller and roll the calves a little bit. These quick exercises are going to improve your ankle mobility.  

Now re-record yourself squatting and see how it looks.  Note any improvements compared to your last video.  If you still struggle to maintain a stable pelvis (no butt wink or excessive arching), or to stay upright in your torso, elevate your heels on some weight plates, a board, or any slightly raised surface that is stable.  Once again, record yourself.  If you have an easier time maintaining form with heels elevated then focus on these exercises multiple times per week long-term to increase your ankle mobility.  


Throughout your day there are factors which contribute to tight calves and limited ankle mobility.  A major one is shoe selection.  High heeled shoes are terrible for ankle mobility and create tight calves and limited range of mobility.  But most sneakers aren’t that great either.  Although much better than high heels most still have an elevated heel, meaning the heel is higher than the front of the foot.  Even a slight raise of the heel will create tighter calves, limited range of motion and will carry over into your squat and other exercises.  Any heel raise at all will also throw off your pelvic alignment and even your upper body position.  If you think about it, you have to compensate somewhere.  If you didn’t you wall fall forward.  This compensation can be problematic over the long-term.   

Check out some zero drop shoes which do not have an elevated heel at all.  Practice spending time barefoot around your home and whenever else you are able to.  Keep working on calf stretches.  There are many standing stretches you can do while waiting in lines or standing around brushing teeth, cooking in your kitchen, etc.  Get the most our of your movement by focusing on it all day- not just during that one or two hours you spend at the gym.

Barefoot shoes are a great option to transition to.  You need to transition very gradually though.  Zero drop shoes are a good stepping stone to utilize for a few months first to allow your calves and ankles to adjust.  Then you can gradually begin to introduce some barefoot shoe options into the rotation.  Making this transition will benefit the longevity of your body and joints as well.  

Fix Yo Shit. Develop a strong, balanced body, and live without pain or limitation.