Squat Report: The Ankle
Last week we looked at what happens in the foot during a squat, how the bones distribute load and the muscles function to help the load be distributed as well.
This week’s blog post might a bit shorter only because all of the muscles that control the foot cross the “ankle” (I will use that term very loosely, you will see why in a minute).
When we are performing as squat we have two forces that happens at the ankle. One of theses forces is splicing and the other is compression. Note, the ankle, when it has these two forces acting on it also has third force that wants to happen, but with all of the muscles supporting the joint it negates this force. This force is shear.
The two bones that make up the ankle are the talus and calcaneal bones these two bones, no matter which direction (dorsiflexion or plantarflexion) always has compression happening and splicing (to a degree). The only difference is:
During Dorsiflexion, the compression forces that are acting on the talocalcaneal joint (the joint that is made up the talus and calcaneal bones) are coming straight from the body downward into the ground and into the foot. The splicing forces here are created by the tibulotalar joint and the fibulotalar joint (where the tibia and the talus meet and where the fibula and talus meet, respectively). The fibula and the tibia both cradle the talus, so when the downward force during the dorsiflexion phase of the squat happens these two joints want to splice open, all the muscles that we have in our lower leg (knee to ankle) must activate to negate this from happening. We have covered most them last week but the ones that we didn’t cover we will look at next month when we look at the shins. The major players here are the ligaments, and tendons. Now, contrary to popular belief you cannot stretch or strengthen ligaments or tendons, they have extremely high levels of collagen which gives them plastic properties (much thicker than muscle but not as thick as bone and has very little give). To numb it down even further, they hold bones together which act an emergency brake if things go wrong, and tendons act as an anchor for muscle to the bone.
During Plantarflexion, the compression forces that are acting on the talocalcaneal joint here are coming almost the same as the dorsiflexion. The difference lies in the direction of gravity. During dorsiflexion you have all the mass (bodyweight and weight of the bar) going in a downward direction, so your muscles are being used as a braking effect, whereas during plantarflexion you are fighting against gravity (working against it) in an upward direction so that you can stand upright again. Therefore, the compression forces on the, we will look at other compression forces elsewhere in the body later on in the year, ankle is pretty much the same. What is different in the ankle is what happens with the tibulotalar and fibulotalar joints. They are pulled back together. The muscles in and around the shin must fire so that the fibula and tibia “come back together”. If there is a muscle that cannot, or does not understand how to do this, then pain will be felt elsewhere in the body.
Well that pretty much sums it up. I really hope that I haven’t lost you guys yet. It is a lot but this is just a glimpse of what is going on in my brain when I am “watching” you do a squat.