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Squatting with Heels Elevated


#1

In order for me to hit depth on a squat i have to put a 2x4 (its actally 1.5") under my heels. Whereas i don't really think there is anything bad or dangerous doing that (Draper fromt squatting image comes to mind) i would like to be able to hit the depth flatfooted.

My question is what is the typical (if there is one) reason someone is able to squat deeper with heels elevated? I've heard everything from ankle flexability to tight hip flexors and so on. I'm trying to figure out what needs the work.


#2

I always thought that heels elevated activated the quads more, but im not 100% on that. As far as mobility goes, I really dont know


#3

Weak 'core' muscles can be a cause for this. If you lay flat on your back, can you bring your knees up to your chest as if you were squatting very deep? Is there any pain or tightness? If not, then you probably don't have a flexibility issue, but an issue of under developed stabilizing muscles.

As far as a heel elevated squat being dangerous...It seems like the verdict is out, some people think they're great, others swear they kill your knees....what they definitely do is take your posterior chain out of the action, which goes back to the above.

I would try working abdominal strength(weighted declines, leg raises, planks etc.), GHR, unilateral leg work(single leg deadlifts) etc. and see if that doesn't help you get flat in a low squat.


#4

It is usually a tendon flexibility. Overly tight achillies and poor ankle dorsal flexion. It is more common today for women who wear high heels and guys who only wear shoes with a tall heel or BBall shoes that restrict ankle mobility.

Sometimes it can even be poor P-Chain stregth can be a contributing factor. Your body will try to lift a weight when you tell it and if you can not activate prime movers then you will compensate accordingly.

Squat with you shoes off and no weight. Sit back, chest up. As you decend you should begin to feel where your heels come off the floor. If it is sooner - work on your ankles first. If it is in the middle then it is a combo of ankles and hip flexors. Lower? - you get the idea.

Once you add weight then you will see how strong your core stabilizers are. Leaning forward can pull your heels off the floor. That means a lazy P-Chain.

I haven't seen you squat but I had this problem. I am pretty flexible but my quads ran the show. Started doing work and focused on hams and glutes in compound movements and my heels dropped to the floor like rocks.

Happy Squating.


#5

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#6

Agreed very much with RWElder0. Just to add my 2 cents, I have a very strong core, but poor ankle flexibility. It just depends on the individual. And don't associate other forms of flexibility with it.

I can almost do full splits, etc. but just don't have that ROM in the achilles tendon/back of the ankle. I can still do squats with heels down but I'd fall over backwards, so instead have to compensate by leaning too much forward and putting too much stress on the back. So weights under the heels for me it is...


#7

Correct! Work on calve flexibility and you will be able to go lower without blocks.


#8

"Squat with you shoes off and no weight. Sit back, chest up. As you decend you should begin to feel where your heels come off the floor. If it is sooner - work on your ankles first. If it is in the middle then it is a combo of ankles and hip flexors. Lower? - you get the idea."

-Heels raise right before it hit 90 degrees with hip and thigh. Raising the heels brings me all the way down.

"Weak 'core' muscles can be a cause for this. If you lay flat on your back, can you bring your knees up to your chest as if you were squatting very deep? Is there any pain or tightness? If not, then you probably don't have a flexibility issue, but an issue of under developed stabilizing muscles."

-I can bring to my chest but there is definite tightness in the hip flexors.

I guess it makes sense that its a hip flexor issue. I cycle a lot and i think hip flexor tightness is a common problem with cyclists. Whats good for that? Leg raises and planks? I ain't using that chick machine looking like a pedophile. :wink:

Thanks for the replies.

BTW this forum blows at quoting multiple posts together. No Alt Q?


#9

For quoting use [ quote ] [ / quote ] no spaces.
I agree it is usually ankle/achilles, or calf flexibility.

Squatting is not the same as lying on your back and bringing your knees to your chest, as you get to the bottom your torso still needs to stay fairly upright, and the parallel flexor of your hips is your archilles, so that is where most of the bending needs to be when you are hitting atg.


#10

No, squatting is not the same as lying on your back and bringing your knees to your chest, that is just a test to determine ROM through your hips.

I don't see how the achilles could be where the majority of the bend in an ATG squat occurs, it seems that would again be the hips. If your ankles had the larger ROM you would be squatting with your shins parallel to the floor.


#11

I like hanging leg raises, but they may not be the best fix if your hip tightness is caused by over use from cycling, planks should certainly help though, I would also look into single leg glute bridges or something like that. Working on getting into, and holding a very, very deep squat could also prove useful.

Also, here's a test to look at the ankle issue that people have brought up, I guess take this into consideration along with the hip test I wrote about earlier.

Stand barefoot facing a wall, your feet parallel, shoulder width apart, toes pointing forward.

Your toes should be as far from the wall as the length of your hand from palm to tip of middle finger.

Bend forward at the ankles until your knees hit the wall. Do your heels raise?

If so, stand just slightly closer to the wall and repeat the exercise until you can touch the walls with flat heels, how far forward do you have to move?

If you can touch the wall from the first position, try this to add the hips into the mix, with your knees touching the wall, slowly lower your hips until your heels begin to rise. How far can you make it down until you're in a heels up position?

If you can touch the wall with your knees, heels down from the first position, you should have more than enough ROM in the ankles to squat to any depth, and you're back to the hips again.

I know this stuff is just very general, but it should give you a decent way to look at the different systems involved in the squat, you'll just have to do some research on how clear up whatever issues you might find.


#12

I think it partially has to do with your center of gravity in the coronal plane.

I can't hit below parallel with feet at shoulder width because my shins lean forward too much, hence the femur can't really break parallel.

I tryed to really go past parallel. What happens is that I'd have to keep shins more perpendicular to the ground and I'd fall backward.

I have good growth, why would I worry.


#13

Use oly shoes before a bit of wood, what do you think the wood will do to the arches of your feet?


#14

I had the same problem and agree with some of the posts so far. Stretching your calves twice daily will help but in order to get to the point where i no longer use plates I did what a friend suggested and started off with 5kg plates under my heels, then 2.5 kgs after a couple of weeks and then 1.25 and now i'm squatting without any.

Everyones different but i think this makes sense and works.


#15

Are you a toe-walker? By that I mean, when you walk most of your weight is towards the front of your feet as oppose to the balls and heel. My roommate does this and he can only squat on his tippy toes. It looks pretty f-ing effeminate but he does have some monster calves from years of walking like that.