It’s not that I’m against mobility work, I just think it’s overdone. I’ll be addressing mobility in another article, but if you have to spend EVERY workout working on mobility – you’re doing it wrong.
Range of motion around a joint, your ankle joint, for example depends on a few things. First, the health of your soft-tissues is paramount. The presence of scar tissue or fascial adhesions can limit your available muscle length. Let’s assume that the soft-tissues are healthy and are capable of allowing your ankle to move into the position required to squat. The question you now need to ask yourself is, “Am I strong enough to hold the ankle in this position?”.
The answer will have to be a resounding yes…otherwise, good luck reaching an ass-to-grass squat. Each muscle and joint has an optimal range at which its strongest. Too long results in weakness. Too short also results in weakness.
The muscle at the front of the shin, the tibialis anterior, is in a maximally shortened position at the bottom of the squat. If we just drop into the bottom, the ankle can be unstable and tight. If, however, we actively contract the tibialis anterior during the descent, we not only stabilize the ankle, we lengthen the calf muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus) through a process known as reciprocal inhibition.
After you ensure that your weight is evenly distributed on the heels and balls of your feet, start lowering into position by actively pulling your knees forward. In the hole, you should be maximally contracting your tibialis anterior.