We highlighted the Bulgarian split squat back in Episode 406 as a great alternative for the traditional barbell back squat, as it elicits similar muscle EMG activity. We got a good question from one of our followers about ankle pain during the exercise. This is a common complaint many have with this exercise, and it all boils down to how the ankle is position on the bench.
We want to AVOID HYPER PLANTARFLEXION with the back leg. Instead, try this easy setup using a half foam roller. It's the perfect size that fits within the contours of the anterior ankle. Now, if you don’t have the luxury of even this simple setup, make sure you point your TOES straight down into the bench. This will ensure your ankle stays in a relatively neutral position while performing the exercise. We can use the available range of motion at the metatarsal-phalangeal joint instead of relying solely on the talocrural joint for all the motion.
No Pain No Gain doesn’t apply to this exercise, nor to any others! If you’re going to exercise, do it RIGHT and do it SAFE. As a Physical Therapist, I’d much rather see you preventatively when you’re HEALTHY, ACTIVE, and FIT than when you’re injured!!