If you’re recovering from an ankle sprain or lack squat depth, you most likely need to address some ankle mobility limitations.
Ankle mobility plays a crucial role in everyday movements like walking and sitting. However, with poor ankle mobility comes the heightened risk of poor posture or injury in the low back, knees, and hips.
These concerns can cause a domino effect of problems in the body, eliminating access to pain-free movement. In other situations, it can cause restrictions. For example, poor ankle mobility can reduce a person’s access to strength, power, and proper form. For many athletes, this deters their ability to progress and compete successfully, as their athletic capabilities are blocked.
Throughout this article, we will help you understand the importance of ankle mobility, the common causes of poor ankle mobility, and how to achieve progress in improving ankle mobility.
The Importance of Increasing Ankle Mobility for Squats
To nail proper form in a squat, ankle mobility must be worked on, especially if you have any tightness or past injuries preventing a full range of movement.
Mobility in the ankle is necessary for proper flexion to achieve deep squats with a stable form. A limited range of motion in the ankle can compromise form during a squat, preventing the ability to lift heavier loads, achieve desired accumulative progress, and discourage the possibility of injury.
If you lack a proper range of motion during a squat, if it affects the quality of form and technique, then it’s crucial to know how to increase ankle mobility for squats. Continually using a poor squat form can increase the risk of injury by causing tension in other joints and muscles. But before we get into how to improve ankle mobility for squats, let’s survey some of the causes of poor ankle mobility.
What Causes Poor Ankle Mobility?
A few factors can cause poor ankle mobility. More commonly, poor ankle mobility is caused by stiffness or a lack of flexibility in the calf muscles or because of a previous injury, like an ankle sprain.
Frequent causes of poor ankle mobility include:
- Poor flexibility in the calf muscles
- Restrictions due to injury (old or new)
- Ankle joint stiffness
- Flat feet
- Plantar fasciitis
- Poor posture
- Excessive sitting
Ignoring ankle mobility issues raises concerns in other aspects of the body. Improving ankle mobility is essential for preventing pain or injury in the ankle, knee, hips, and other body parts that play significant roles in day-to-day life.
Can You Fix Poor Ankle Mobility?
Yes, poor ankle mobility can be fixed. Using distinct methods, like ankle mobility exercises, can be highly beneficial for facilitating improvement.
Before moving forward on how to improve ankle mobility for squats and daily movements like walking and sitting, let’s assess any ankle mobility restrictions you may have and what options may work best for you.
Do I Need to Learn How to Improve Ankle Mobility for Squats? Ruling Out Other Limitations
To determine whether you should learn how to improve ankle mobility for squats, you must first test your ankle mobility. There are a few methods to assess whether you require ankle mobility stretches to broaden your range of motion. One of these methods involves dropping into a squat. You lack ankle mobility if your heels cannot stay on the ground.
If ankle mobility is not the issue restricting depth or form in a squat, it may come down to a few other possibilities.
- Lack of mobility in the hips or thoracic spine
- Tight hamstrings
- Poor core stability
- Body ratios (ex., hip anatomy, torso to femur, and femur to tibia)
Most often, though, ankle mobility is the problem. So let’s discuss the best ankle mobility exercises for achieving a better squat depth to succeed with your health and fitness goals!
How to Increase Ankle Mobility for Squats or General Athleticism
Regarding increasing ankle mobility, we have gathered the top methods for promoting the best results, whether you wish to improve squat depth or recover ankle mobility after an injury. These top tips and equipment recommendations will guarantee success in improving ankle mobility so you can enjoy enhanced mobility and reduced injury risk in sports, at the gym, and in daily life.
Set Yourself up for Success With the Right Gear
To set yourself up for success, you must buy the right gear!
CastleFlexx’s stretching equipment is the best tool for improving ankle mobility by providing access to full-body stretching and strengthening capabilities through accessible assisted stretching. The benefits of assisted stretching are prevalent in alleviating tight muscles and stiff joints, addressing mobility concerns, and improving athletic performance.
Assisted stretching requires the assistance of a second person to achieve deeper and broader ranges of movement. But with our flexibility equipment at CastleFlexx, you can access this form of stretching without needing another person. So you can target mobility issues in the ankles anytime, anywhere, for guaranteed results!
Deep Tissue Work
With the help of deep tissue work, mobility can be improved in the ankles. This is done by focusing on the fascia and muscles that may be tight in the calves and hamstrings muscles, which can affect the ankle’s range of motion. If you’re interested in learning how to release tight calves, read our linked article for more information.
Addressing the muscles and fascia with deep tissue work can encourage better circulation and blood flow to these areas, resulting in reduced inflammation and pain. For more information on fascia and its relation to stiffness or pain in the body, review what is fascial stretch therapy and its benefits. We recommend educating yourself on it and the benefits of deep tissue work and assisted stretching for releasing tight fascia.
This dynamic stretch opens up the ankle joint to release tension. In addition, ankle circles are a great stretching tool to address mobility concerns in the ankle by warming up your feet, ankles, and calves to prevent injury, improve flexibility and mobility, and strengthen the ankle throughout a broad movement range.
Standing Heel Raises
Adding standing heel lifts into your routine is excellent for improving ankle mobility. This exercise also functions to strengthen the calf muscles and improve stability.
Heel raises are commonly used to help treat plantar fasciitis. As poor ankle mobility, which can result from tight calves, and plantar fasciitis have been linked, incorporating standing heel raises into your routine or simply addressing poor ankle mobility can be a preventative or treatment tool.
Ankle Flexion (Plantar)
Improving ankle mobility and plantar flexion can enhance the body’s capabilities in running and jumping. It also aids in strengthening the ankles for more proficient support. Weak ankles can cause instability in daily or athletic movements. By strengthening the ankles, injury risks are prevented.
Ankle Flexion (Dorsiflexion)
Incorporating ankle flexion with dorsiflexion movements can be beneficial for improving ankle mobility. Using this stretching exercise improves flexion in the foot, functioning to improve ease of movement in squatting, sprinting, and other daily activities.
Training your ankles with this mobility exercise can prevent injury caused by poor ankle mobility, commonly seen in the low back, hips, and knees.
Toe Heel Walks
A relatively easy exercise that can be performed anywhere, toe-heel walks, sometimes called tiptoe walks, strengthen the feet and the ankles. In addition, it activates the calf muscles to improve power, stability, and mobility in the ankle.
Is Protocol Different for Learning How to Increase Ankle Mobility After Sprain?
Yes, the timeline for an ankle sprain can look different. The sprain must heal fully before increasing intensity with ankle mobility stretches and exercises. Overworking a recovering ankle may result in re-injuring or deterring the healing process, resulting in chronic ankle sprains. Your doctor or physical therapist will assign stretches and exercises safe to strengthen the ankle until complete recovery.
Regarding how to increase ankle mobility after sprain injuries, it’s essential to address any weakness or mobility issues that may have occurred from the sprain. Take it slow, but once you’ve received your doctor's go-ahead, you can begin increasing ankle mobility by incorporating mobility stretches and exercises.
How Long Does it Take to Increase Ankle Mobility?
So, how long does it take to increase ankle mobility?
Regarding how long it takes to increase flexibility and mobility, the path to progress varies from person to person. Usually, ankle mobility progress is first noticeable after 2-4 weeks. But to be realistic, you should be working on improving your ankle mobility by incorporating these exercises in your weekly routine anywhere from 3-4 times a week to see results.
Wrapping Up Our Guide on How to Increase Ankle Mobility for Squats
Addressing ankle mobility limitations can enhance form, strength, and power in a squat by expanding your body’s capacity in a deeper range of motion. Increasing ankle mobility doesn’t have to be complicated or impossible.
With CastleFlexx’s flexibility equipment, you can benefit from assisted stretching without restrictions. Made to be used whenever or wherever you need, our stretching tool can empower broader ranges of movement with deeper stretching for rewarding progress in mobility, flexibility, and strength.
Strengthen your squat for new PR’s in the gym and target post-injury ankle mobility issues with CastleFlexx’s flexibility equipment!