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Old 03-11-2013, 06:18 AM   #1
Are-Harald Brenne
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Ancle mobility and knee flexion

Hi guys,

I have the rather usual postural issues with anterior pelvic tilt and weak hamstrings and glutes. Ancle mobility has always seemed to be an issue for me, limiting my ability to squat. I have been under the belief that the length of the deep calf muscle has been the cause, and I have spent quite some time rolling and stretching the soleius, with perhaps questionable success.

I just discovered that my ancle dorsiflexion ROM with my knee flexed past 90 degrees is alot more limited than what it is when my knee is near full extension. Standing upright with slightly bent knee I can push the knee 10 cm in front of the toes, with the heel in the ground. While squatting I can barely get the knee in front of my toes.

Is this common? Should this affect how I work for increased ancle mobility?
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Old 03-11-2013, 08:29 PM   #2
Andrew Wiemken
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Re: Ancle mobility and knee flexion

Hey buddy. I was in Norway last January for a wedding in Lillehammer, and went and saw Sognefjord and Stegastein, it was the coolest road trip of my life to drive through the Norwegian countryside, such giant, awesome looking snowy mountains. Beautiful country.

First off, for the anterior pelvic tilt, you need to do Glute Bridges. Strict Glute Bridges, often, with full glute activation and no lumbar extension, so that means flex the abs hard during the movement to make sure your lumbar area remains neutral/in flexion. Anterior tilt also probably means weak abdominals, so Planks are in order. Work on Glute Bridges and Planks every day until the excessive lordosis is taken care of. Very, very vigorously stretch your hip flexors with lunge stretches, etc. They tend to also be responsible for that.

Honestly it's hard to believe that the real issue is truly having less ankle mobility with bent knees. The gastrocnemius, the two-headed upper calf muscle, also works to flex the knee. So if anything, your ankle mobility would be better with flexed knees due to the fact that you are giving the gastrocnemius extra slack at the knee end.

If you're truly working your ankle mobility hard and frequently, like really hard and really frequently, because that's what the very tough, very strong calves require, then you're doing all you can, and ankles probably aren't the issue...

Ankle mobility is overrated. So is the Air Squat. The second you add some weight to the squat, form improves because you have something to resist and the entire mechanical body-load system changes. If you can get to full depth in an Air Squat, with no regard to any other kind of form standards, then you're ready to do ***Goblet Squats***, and any coach that says otherwise and demands a perfect Air Squat before any kind of loading, is wasting their trainees' time and being overly particular about an irrelevant, dogmatic requirement. The Goblet Squats will in turn improve the Air Squat. And really, if you're going to get serious about doing loaded high bar or front squats, you need to get a suitable lifting shoe with a raised heel anyway. I think few people ever truly achieve a barefoot, form-perfect Air Squat. I sure can't do it perfectly, and I do full Snatches no problem. Do GOBLET SQUATS, and watch how your form improves immediately. Upright torso, lumbar nice and straight, knees out, tracking over toes, no problem.

Hip mobility is NOT overrated. Always work on that.

Good luck, train hard!
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Old 03-11-2013, 08:36 PM   #3
Andrew Wiemken
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Re: Ancle mobility and knee flexion

When I say 'to full depth in an Air Squat', I mean to full depth with ***Heels on the ground***. Really important to qualify that. What I meant by 'with no regard for other form cues' is basically not to worry about a strictly locked lumbar spine. You're never going to hurt yourself doing a bodyweight squat with a rounded lumbar spine. When you load the squat in the front of the body, like in a Goblet Squat or Front Squat, the rounding almost always goes away if hip mobility is moderately good.

Had to clarify that.
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