When performing a squat at the gym, you may have noticed other gym rats are able to get really low in their squats, while you have to balance precariously on your toes to get that far down. This might be because you have less ankle dorsiflexion, which allows you to get deep in your squat while keeping your heels planted firmly on the ground. Fortunately, with regular stretching exercises you can increase the flexibility in your ankles and achieve a really deep squat.
Wall Dorsiflexion Stretch
Stand six inches from a wall with your left leg behind you and your weight on your right leg. Your right knee should be slightly bent and the heel of your right foot planted firmly on the ground. Place your hands flat on the wall at shoulder height.
Bend your right leg until your knee touches the wall. Keep your right heel on the ground as you bend your knee.
Bring your right knee back to its starting position after it touches the wall. Do four more knee touches with your right knee, then switch legs so your left leg is forward and your right leg back. Do five knee touches with your left knee.
Move your front foot back one or two inches and repeat the exercise. Continue to move back as far as you can until you can no longer touch the wall with your knee while still keeping your heel flat on the ground.
Raised Dorsiflexion Stretch
Stand with the toes of both feet on some sort of solid, elevated surface such as a flat piece of 1-inch wood or a weightlifting plate. Your toes should be on the plate but your heels should be flat on the floor.
Keep your body straight and tall and bend your knees until they are farther forward than your toes. This requires your ankles to dorsiflex using your own body weight as resistance.
Straighten your knees, then repeat. You may not be able to bend your knees very far forward at first, but with regular stretching you should be able to increase your ankles' flexibility.
- Do not attempt these stretches if you've recently injured your ankle or knee joints. Consult with your doctor or physical therapist before starting any new exercise regimen.
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