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Can't Keep Heels Down

My training partner recently started a workout program for his girlfriend. The problem is she cannot keep her heels in contact with the floor doing squats or even leg press. she actually will fall over backwards if she gets anywher near parallel. She is fairly tall with long upper legs. Any suggestions??

A few things to try…plates under heels, high-heel OL shoes, stretching the soleus.

I think this is pretty common for people who are first starting and who never squat to pick up things. The problem should resolve itself over time as she develops more flexibility in her achilles tendons. She can speed the process by stretching 2-3 times a day. This can be performed anytime with a gentle bodyweight squat, held in the fully lowered position. This is also a great lower back stretch. Stretching the calves on a step should help, too. Good luck.

You could have her do box squats. This helps teach a person to sit back into their squat and keep the weight on their heels. I have worked out with people with the same problem and box squats have helped them learn proper form. Hope that helps.

She needs flexibility; have her take a yoga class. I’m serious, it’ll make a huge difference. Her lower back is probably weak, also, so that needs to be worked.

I used to have that problem and so did my mom. For some reason it went away after a few months of weight training for both of us. She and I had always thought it a genetic limitation, now I think it had more to do with a tight soleus like was already mentioned.

It could be a lack of flexibility in the ankle and/or hips.

It could also be weak hamstrings and/or lower back preventing her from being able to sit back far enough. I’ve heard Dave Tate talk about that.

Start her off on something like a trapbar deadlift instead of squats.

The calve muscles are not the problem. and using the plates under her heels will only reinforce the problem and place more stress to her knees. Instead, have her work on hamstring, glute, and hip flexor flexibility. Start her off squatting off of a box. This will teach her to sit back with the hips instead of allowing her weight to shift towards her toes, thus the heels coming off the ground. During squats cue her to keep her chest up and open, sit back, keep weight slightly more to the heels. later

What kind of shoes is she wearing? have her practice her form barefoot and without weights moving her feet to different widths until she finds a good stable width. Warming up, stretching is always a good idea. Otomix or Chuck Taylors are good shoes for squating.

Stretching will help, alot. So will having her limit her time in high heeled shoes, if she wears them.

It may be too incredibly tough, but some of Ian Kings one legged squats and other exercises may help her develop better form, from a biomechanical stand point. Of course, she may need to break down some of Ian’s exercises into 3 and 4 seperate steps. And of course a spotter would be needed.

Ya i had a similar problem when i first started squatting, that and i know it had something to do with wearing basketball shoes. Which are terrible my opinion for squatting. After time it went away, i also changed to squatting barefoot for about a month, then tried an older pair of nike shoes, which seem to be fine.

Wow, old thread. I’m having the same problem. bump!

Like anything, practice makes perfect. The more you do anything the better you get at it. Patience is a must. I have the most horrendous flexibility and over the course of months I’m able to do OK squats. I can almost go to parallel without rounding my back.

Check Defranco’s tip about stretching the hip flexor and the achilles. Stretch, stretch, stretch!

I haven’t read throuh all the responses but can tell you that my Dad had the same problem when I was teaching him to squat. Many people don’t bend their hips before their knees when squatting.

Solution: box squats!

Helps with flexibility and improves overall form, IMO.

Check out my response to buckeye’s question on this week’s Prime Time thread.

[quote]NaturalMan wrote:
The calve muscles are not the problem. and using the plates under her heels will only reinforce the problem and place more stress to her knees. Instead, have her work on hamstring, glute, and hip flexor flexibility. Start her off squatting off of a box. This will teach her to sit back with the hips instead of allowing her weight to shift towards her toes, thus the heels coming off the ground. During squats cue her to keep her chest up and open, sit back, keep weight slightly more to the heels. later[/quote]

Really? Work PT for a while and see how many people cannot achieve enough dorsiflexion to squat properly…how can you possibly make a statement that flexability isn’t an issue? Also, look at Oly lifters; high-bar squats with anterior tibial translation and they can keep the feet dorsiflexed.