Without perfect form, it’s tough for an athlete to improve an air squat, or squat-based Olympic movements such as a front squat, back squat, thruster and–most noticeably–overhead squat.
The coaches at CrossFit Katy Trail evaluate strength and mobility restrictions and, usually (justifiably), blame midline stability or glut strength as obvious culprits.
Don’t overlook the ankles.
Perhaps because it’s a smaller body part, the ankle is not always taken into account in achieving the best squatting position.
A quick “downward dog” test is a good way to assess ankle flexion. In this awesome yoga position, we can see if our heels touch the ground. If not, it’s time to devote at least 3-4 minutes before class stretching our ankles.
What if the ankle problem is a lack of strength?
Personally, I have issues with the tendons and ligaments that wrap around the top of the foot and around the ankle. The elasticity is diminished after a long race, and I need to rebuild the strength to build them back up and support the weight in the bottom of a squat.
Two strength-building exercises that help stabilize and build the ankles:
Remember: A stretch held for less than 90 seconds offers zero benefits.
Mastering balance and building ankle strength will help us on trail runs, box jumps, double-unders, lunges and more. Take advantage of the few minutes before class to work on ankle mobility and strength. I see people using the foam rollers like a coach pillow!
To improve your overall strength and balance, I recommend that you purchase a Reebok Balance Board.