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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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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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.
ANKLE AND CALF MOBILITY – CAUSES?
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.