You’re Doing Squats Wrong. Here’s How to Fix Them

squat
 Photograph by James Michelfelder

There’s hardly a workout that doesn’t involve a squat, yet many of ours aren’t up to snuff.

A common issue is weight distribution. In a balanced, grounded squat, your weight is even across your feet. But lots of us find ourselves drifting to the balls of our feet instead. That’s a problem because that forward tilt introduces instability into what should be a strong, smooth movement.

The likely culprit: tightness in the Achilles tendon and the foot. Shifting to the balls of your feet means that the tissues connecting your calves to your feet are forcing your heels off the ground, rather than being limber enough to allow you to plant your feet completely for a full range of motion. There’s an easy fix for that ankle tightness. Before you exercise, roll out the area with a lacrosse or golf ball. Spend two minutes on the bottoms of your feet and two minutes on the Achilles tendons.

Tight ankles aren’t just a problem in the gym. They could be hurting your running as well. If you end up walking pigeon-toed after a hard race, roll out your feet, which will get your ankles to loosen up. Plus, it’s discreet enough to do under the table while enjoying a post-race beer.

BONUS: The Hip-Hinge Test
Maintaining a flat back, hip hinge and see how close to parallel to the ground your torso gets. Roll out your feet, then hinge again. You may be looking at a difference of six or eight inches of mobility.