Ankle Flexibility for Squats

Squats with a sprained ankle

While you may be tempted to do squats when you are not fully healed, making sure that your sprained ankle is 100% healed will be more beneficial to your long term training and health.

One of the most important steps in injury recovery is to make sure your ankle is not being put through painful movements.

You should only be focused on moving your ankle and doing pain-free activities.

So, if you are able to squat pain-free, why not?

There is nothing wrong with that.

The issues start to appear when lifters want to push past their pain thresholds, knowing very well that it is not a good idea.

But you are eager to train!

What else would you do?

Learning how to control these frustrations and emotions will further develop your character.

This is another unspoken part of the strength training journey.


Foam Rolling

Once joint restrictions have been addressed the next step is to clear up any soft tissue stiffness. This starts with using a foam roller. I usually recommended athletes spend at least 2 minutes on each area they are trying to address with a foam roller. Every athlete should foam roll on a daily basis!

Physical Therapist Dr. Mike Reinold has an excellent video demonstrating this technique. Start by moving slowly up and down the lower leg muscles until you find a tender area. Pause on this area and ‘tack it down’ with your opposite leg for ~10 seconds before moving to find another spot. You can also add in some ankle pumps during this pause to increase the effectiveness.


Clinically Effective Doses

Many ingredients in supplements don’t have any scientifically validated benefits, and many ingredients that do are often underdosed to the point of irrelevance.

That’s why we only use the choice ingredients and precise doses shown to be effective in peer-reviewed scientific studies.

How much squat weight to do after coming back from a sprained ankle?

Take anywhere between 10-20% off your previous working sets.

If you have been severely deconditioned, you can start taking up to 50% of your previous working sets.

It is okay to start reconditioning your body in order to handle heavy loads again.

I understand that you may be on a beginner strength training program like Greyskull LP, but injuries are something you need to adapt for.

Frequently Asked Questions?

How can I Squat more weight?

If you want to Squat bigger weights, here’s what you should do:

  1. Squat low bar. Use a lower bar position, where the bar sits at the top of your shoulder-blades. This instantly allows you to Squat at least 10% more weight.
  2. Use a belt. Wear a weight lifting belt that is the same width all around. This increases torso strength by giving your abs something to push against. Another 10% increase.
  3. Use the Power Rack. And set the safety pins to catch the weights. This increases confidence under the bar so you go after more reps without being afraid of failure.
  4. Do Pause Squats. Once do Squats where you stop at the bottom for two seconds before coming back up. This builds strength in the hardest part of the Squat.
  5. Improve your form. The more effective your form, the shorter the movement and the more muscles engaged. Tape yourself and improve your form.

How can I increase my Squat Max?

If you Squat mostly sets of five or eight reps, and you want to increase your 1 repetition max, then you need to do more singles (sets of one reps).

The easiest way is to do a heavy single before you do your sets of fives. Warmup, work towards a heavy single, then lower the weight and do your sets of fives.

Doing more singles will get you used to unracking and Squatting heavier weights. Your skill will improve which will increase your Squat max.

How many times a week should I Squat?

At least two times a week, ideally two times. One time is not enough as that’s not enough practice. It’s hard to improve your Squat technique when you only do it once a week. Twice a week is better as you get double the practice. I Squat three times a week.

How many reps should I do on Squats?

Beginners who Squat less than 140kg/300lb and want to get stronger fast, should focus on Squatting mostly sets of five reps. Check my StrongLifts 5×5 workout for an example.

How do I achieve perfect Squat form?

Do Squats as often as you can, ideally three times a week. Record your Squats so you can see what you’re doing. Review your form against the tips in this article. Correct mistakes that you find yourself doing.

Do Squats make your bum bigger?

Squats work your legs, including your butt and things. Those muscles will get stronger and bigger from Squatting bigger weights. Most guys find they have to buy bigger jeans after a few months, as their previous pair got tight around the thighs (but loose at the belly).

Do Squats make your hips wider?

No. Hip width is determined by your bone structure. There’s not much muscles on the sides of your hips. Nothing can get bigger there. Your glutes will get bigger, but they mostly grow to the back, not the sides. Most guys find their waist decrease from Squatting (because their abs get stronger). Squat don’t cause wide hips – that’s a myth.

What can I do instead of Squats?

You can do high bar squats if low bar squats hurt your shoulders.

But not exercise works your body through the same range of motion and with maximal weights like Squats. Substituting Squats will always mean working with less weight (glute bridges, lunges, dumbbell Squat), a shorter range of motion (Deadlifts) or without the need for balance (Smith Squats, leg press).

There’s no substitute for Squats. That’s why Squats are king for strength and size.

Can you do Squats if you have bad knees?

Many guys with bad knees have told me their knees feel better since they started to Squat. This s because Squats strengthen your leg muscles which provides your knee joint more support. The key is to start light, use proper form, and progress slowly (check StrongLifts 5×5). As long as your knees feel fine, keep going.

Wearing knee sleeves for Squats can help you if you have bad knees. The knee sleeves will keep your knee joint warm, and lubricate them. Knee sleeves can also act like mental support, making you more confident to Squat.

Why do my knees pop when I Squat?

Nothing to worry about. It’s like when you crack your knuckles. Just gas bubbles popping in your joint form the change in pressure. There is no evidence that popping joints will cause arthritis. My knees, shoulders and back pop sometimes when I lift. It’s not an issue. Just warmup properly, and make sure you Squat with proper form.

What if I hate Squats?

Squat more. Most people who hate Squats are bad at Squats. That’s why they hate Squatting. So they avoid Squatting which makes them hate Squats even more. Because you can’t get good at Squats if you don’t Squats. You have to Squat to get better at Squat.

Rule of thumb: whenever you hate an exercise, that probably means you’re not good at it. The proper response is to do that exercise more until you get better at it. Your technique will improve, your strength will improve, and this will make you start enjoying it.

Overhead Squat Flexibility

The aim of the Overhead Squat flexibility test is to assess the movement competency to perform an Overhead Squat.

What is an Overhead Squat Flexibility Test

The Overhead Squat Flexibility Test assesses whether every segment that is involved in the Overhead Squat has sufficient flexibility and mobility to perform an Overhead Squat.

The Overhead Squat Flexibility Test is quite unique as it doesn’t really allow for any compensations and is a true ‘Head-To-Toe’ test, which literally tests everything from head to toe and also shows whether all links in the chain work in conjunction to successfully execute the OHS.

What does the Overhead Squat Flexibility Test assess?

The Overhead Squat Flexibility test assesses everything between the bar overhead and the toe.

From the bottom-up, the OHS test looks at the ankle, knee, hip, lower back, thoracic spine, shoulder and elbow, and wrist.

How to execute the Overhead Squat Flexibility Test

There are different variations of the Overhead Squat Flexibility test on the market, such as the Functional Movement Screen (FMS), that uses a grading system on a 1 – 3 point scale, the Movement Dynamics, that grades the OHS on a 1-5 points scale and probably a few more.

I don’t think it’s that important which Overhead Squat test you chose, it’s more important, how you execute it, where you look at, how you interpret the results and most importantly how you use the information in your training practice. Check out a very simple and good version of the Overhead Deep Squat Assessment from , which outlines it doesn’t have to be complicated to be effective.

Let’s have a look how the Overhead Squat test looks in practice.

The Overhead Squat Flexibility test in practice

If you want to skip the intro and explanation, go right to minute 02:18

As you could see, I try to keep things simple, without overcomplicating, by looking at the entire movement from the side view, as well as from the front view.

The different angles give you different perspectives.

As an example from the front view, it would be difficult to see, whether the lower back rounds in the bottom position, whilst from the side view, you wouldn’t be able to see, if the knees drop in, especially if it’s the knee further away from you.

Secondly, check the different segments that I outlined – ankle, knee, hip, lower back, thoracic spine, shoulder, elbows and wrist and then observe whether you see flaws or deficiencies in the Overhead Squat movement.

Grading the Overhead Squat Flexibility test

There are different ways to grade the Overhead Squat flexibility test, we use a set of criteria.

Criteria 1: Overhead Squat depth achieved?

Does the athlete achieve full squat depth, where the crease of the hip is lower than the midpoint of the knees and the upper thighs are less than parallel with the ground, from the side view.

Criteria 2: Back alignment

Is the back properly aligned?

What is proper alignment?

Well, it’s the natural and anatomical ‘curvature’ of the spine, lordotic lumbar spine, kyphotic thoracic spine and lordotic cervical spine from the side view.

Please note that I mentioned natural and anatomical ‘curvature’ of the spine, which means the spine needs to be maintained in this position, no excessive lordosis or kyphosis.

Criteria 3: stick/bar centered

Is the bar or stick right above the head from the side view?

Ideally, the bar should be centered over the middle of the foot throughout the entire movement.

Criteria 4: Knees aligned

Are the knees aligned over feet from front view? No varus, nor valgus?

If any of the criteria are not met, we address the flexibility issue with the appropriate Overhead Squat Flexibility and mobility exercises.

Please check out the post The Overhead Squat Assessment from the Fitness Trainer Academy, which goes much more into detail with their grading system.

One question always comes up.

Is the Overhead Squat test a strength & conditioning assessment or a physiotherapy screening?

The simple answer is ‘both’.

As a strength & conditioning coach, I use the Overhead Squat flexibility test to assess movement quality and movement competency, and in most cases, the test reveals simple movement deficiencies, that can be cleaned up through attention to detail and appropriate practice.

As a physiotherapy screening, the Overhead Squat flexibility test also looks at movement quality, but if any movement deficiencies are diagnosed the physiotherapist dives much deeper into the root cause as the strength & conditioning coach could.

About Powerlifting Technique

Hi! I’m Avi Silverberg and this is the place

Hi! I’m Avi Silverberg and this is the place where my friends and I nerd out about powerlifting technique.  On this blog we share all the things we wish we knew when getting started.  On a personal level, I’ve been dedicating myself to the world of powerlifting for the past 15 years, having both competed and coached at the highest level.


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