“To deal with a problem effectively is to deal with the root cause” (ANON)
The deep squat is an excellent exercise to develop leg strength, joint mobility, and the skill of aligning bodyweight over the base of support relevant for running. Ankle immobility is a limiting factor to a flat-footed deep squat (Kasuyama, Sakamoto and Nakazawa, 2009), and also predicts knee injury due to compensatory knee valgus (Lima et al., 2018).Efforts to improve the deep squat by improving ankle range are often thwarted however by failure to consider foot structure.
The ‘Science of Foot Dysfunction and Cure’ posts detailed how compromised foot structure (shoe-shaped feet) creates instability and a twist of the forefoot on the rearfoot (MacConaill, 1945). The twist leads to either high-arched rigid feet, or flat-collapsed feet. Both foot types possess misaligned subtalar joints that effectively ‘block’ ankle dorsi flexion creating stiff, inflexible ankles(Manoli and Graham, 2018).
The ‘root cause’ of many deep-squat problems is,therefore, compromised foot structure that, in turn, limits ankle mobility. Limited ankle range is often just a symptom of the real problem i.e. ‘shoe-shaped feet’. If you are struggling to improve your deep squat, despite efforts to improve ankle range, compromised foot structure is the likely culprit. To improve ankle range, functional foot structure must first be restored. This is achieved by: