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Very poor dorsiflexion; OK to squat on balls of feet?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

It is somewhat difficult for me to keep my heels on the ground during full squats because my foot dorsiflexion range is somewhat impaired by a large instep/foot bones.

 

So, is going onto the balls of feet (in a mildly forward motion, and then returning) OK during barbell squats?

 

 

For some reason, this is not as much of an issue on the leg press and hack squat machines, but of course there you don't need be "in balance."

post #2 of 15

Start by putting some 5lb plates under your heels when you squat.Or get some lifting shoes

See if that cures your problem.

But to answer your question ,no it is not ok to be on the balls of your feet.

Try sitting in a squat with your heels firmly planted and hold on to something solid(squat rack,post,a tree) chest up ,back as straight as possible..Hold that position for a min.or 2 a few times a day.That should loosen things up.

post #3 of 15

Also practice the squat with weight out stretched.  Use the weight as a counter balance.  This is a drill to help you improve.

 

post #4 of 15

As above: no, not okay. But elevating heels can help. Are you certain it's a structural issue? If so, I wouldn't push the range with a long hold squat position.  

 

I love the counterbalance suggestion above. Sometimes the problem with a squat is actually poor core stability. That drill can help address that.   

 

 

post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by evaino View Post

Are you certain it's a structural issue? 

 



I don't know... it doesn't happen at much (or at all) with front squats (in which I can keep weight on heels).  Also, one one-legged bosu-ball squats I can go all the way down, but the bosu ball sometimes slightly tilts forward so I'm not dorsiflexed as much.  Actually for this reason the bosu ball 1-legged squats are substantially easier than 1-legged squats on flat ground.

 

Also, due to muscle volume relative to my (short) height, things start to get a little squished in the bottom of a normal squat unless my stance is really wide and abducted.

post #6 of 15

 

Here is an episode from mobilitywod.com that may be helpful.There are a few more,just type in "dorsiflexion" and enjoy.

 

http://www.mobilitywod.com/2010/09/its-just-movement-break-it-down.html

post #7 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vitamin Ski View Post

It is somewhat difficult for me to keep my heels on the ground during full squats because my foot dorsiflexion range is somewhat impaired by a large instep/foot bones.

 

So, is going onto the balls of feet (in a mildly forward motion, and then returning) OK during barbell squats?

 

 

For some reason, this is not as much of an issue on the leg press and hack squat machines, but of course there you don't need be "in balance."



By "large instep" I'm going to interpret that as your podiatrist or foot OS told you that you have a cavus foot type and that your available ankle dorsiflexion is probably less than 10 degrees from neutral which might be compounded by a bony issue at your distal tibia clanging against the neck of your talus...and/or short achilles tendon.

 

In a normal squat, one of the muscles that unbend your ankle (stand up) is the gastro-soleus complex which turns into the achilles tendon which attaches to the back of the heel. It is a very strong muscle group as are most of the anti-gravity muscles. 

 

If you add the ball of your foot into the mix to compensate, you're transferring significantly more weight onto your metatarsal heads (ball of the foot) as well as tension to the tiny foot muscles that stabilize your toes as well as the longer ones deep inside the back of your leg.

 

In short - if it's hurts a lot then don't do it - you could give yourself a stress fracture - kinda like weekend warrior runners like to do.

post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Velobuff View Post



By "large instep" I'm going to interpret that as your podiatrist or foot OS told you that you have a cavus foot type and that your available ankle dorsiflexion is probably less than 10 degrees from neutral which might be compounded by a bony issue at your distal tibia clanging against the neck of your talus...and/or short achilles tendon.

 

In a normal squat, one of the muscles that unbend your ankle (stand up) is the gastro-soleus complex which turns into the achilles tendon which attaches to the back of the heel. It is a very strong muscle group as are most of the anti-gravity muscles. 

 

If you add the ball of your foot into the mix to compensate, you're transferring significantly more weight onto your metatarsal heads (ball of the foot) as well as tension to the tiny foot muscles that stabilize your toes as well as the longer ones deep inside the back of your leg.

 

In short - if it's hurts a lot then don't do it - you could give yourself a stress fracture - kinda like weekend warrior runners like to do.



Yes yes yes!  You sound like you know what you are talking about... it feels like there is a bunch of bone on top of foot (talus, navicular, etc), which is very thick in me, that is preventing my leg from bending very far forward.

 

It didn't used to be like this.

 

AND

 

In a heavily-abducted stance, I can get full forward flexion...

 

I feel none of this happened till I became addicted to BOSU-BALL squats (which wreak mechanical havoc on the ankle joint in all directions)... did I mess myself up?  Perhaps have I busted cartilage, have I calcified too much connective tissue?

 

 

 

Also, I don't do any calf training, so is a weak soleus and gastrocnemius to blame for the inability to support the ankle flexion in a heavy squat?

post #9 of 15
Quote:

 

I feel none of this happened till I became addicted to BOSU-BALL squats (which wreak mechanical havoc on the ankle joint in all directions)


 

That's the truth.

 

whether you've done damage or whether the problem is related to the bosu ball is not something we can tell over the interweb.

 

Step 1: stop doing bosu ball squats.

Step 2: if there is pain go get checked out by a health care professional and follow their advice instead of the steps I'm suggesting below.

Step 3: Stretch and foam roll areas that feel tight. work on foot and ankle mobility.  work on single leg balance exercises in socks or barefoot (not on a bosu). 

Step 4: switch out your ball of foot squats for split squats or single leg squats for awhile (2-4 weeks)

Step 4: try the squats again and see if there's improvement in the form.

 

Going for some massage would also be a good idea. And if you can't get perfect form with your squat, consider ditching them altogether. It is a good exercise for the right person, but bad for the wrong person. You don't need them to get strong and powerful. 

 

Elsbeth

 

 

post #10 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vitamin Ski View Post



Yes yes yes!  You sound like you know what you are talking about... it feels like there is a bunch of bone on top of foot (talus, navicular, etc), which is very thick in me, that is preventing my leg from bending very far forward.

 

It didn't used to be like this.

 


You probably have formed bone spurs on the top of your talus (ankle bone) and the front lowest part of your shin bone where they meet. A xray from left to right (or right to left but that's besides the point) might show the bone spurs nicely. I've done the surgery to remove them many times and the patient will have increased range of motion however you need to prevent the problem from happening (in the first place) otherwise surgery is a band-aid (pun intended).

 

post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Velobuff View Post


You probably have formed bone spurs on the top of your talus (ankle bone) and the front lowest part of your shin bone where they meet. A xray from left to right (or right to left but that's besides the point) might show the bone spurs nicely. I've done the surgery to remove them many times and the patient will have increased range of motion however you need to prevent the problem from happening (in the first place) otherwise surgery is a band-aid (pun intended).

 



As long as pain (per se) isn't an issue, might I just lay off the bad exercise and try to increase the ROM before going to a podiatrist?  Or, given the situation, should I see one anyway?

post #12 of 15

post #13 of 15

post #14 of 15

post #15 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vitamin Ski View Post



As long as pain (per se) isn't an issue, might I just lay off the bad exercise and try to increase the ROM before going to a podiatrist?  Or, given the situation, should I see one anyway?



I avoid doctors :) If you're taking pain relievers to make the pain a non-issue then you need to see a Dr. Either way it won't hurt and seeing one might better help you define your limits on what you can/can't should/shouldn't do. Try to see a Dr. that is an athlete.

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