Ankle, Knee, and Hip Mobility Checklist for the Overhead Squat

The snatch is one of the most complex movements in strength sports, requiring the highest degrees of neuromuscular patterning, power, strength and stability, and systemic mobility. The overhead squat positioning is often a limiting aspect of the snatch, resulting in poor receiving position, lack of depth in the catch, and instability in the last half of the movement.

Often, I see people who are poor at overhead squatting, who continue to squat, hoping to suddenly improve. More often than not, they slightly improve, like one would performing any new movement, only to develop injuries and poor mechanics that soon come back to haunt them in more complex movements, like snatches. Addressing the mobility issues for the overhead squat should be a systematic approach, one that examines the necessary joint actions, flexibility, and stability throughout every joint that make up the whole. This piece by piece checklist will allow you to break down the individual aspects that may be limiting the overhead squat.

In this article (part one of two part series) we will start from the ground up, specifically looking at foot, ankle, knee, and hip mobility. Part two will cover thoracic, shoulder, elbow, and wrist mobility limitation and solutions.

Feet and Ankles

Stiffness in the plantar fascia, Achilles, and calves will drastically affect the ability to dorsiflex the ankles, which is necessary for a forward angled of the shins. Stretching and myofascial release of the fascia below the feet may decrease any pain/stiffness. I tend to recommend stretches of lifting the big toe while in a squat position and or mobilization of the ankle through the full range of motion nearly every day. Increased stiffness in the calves can also contribute to both ankle and knee stiffness as well, so be sure to actively stretch (I thoroughly recommend static stretching post exercise if stiff calves are an issue). Examples for mobility would be:

Big Toe Stretch

Squat Toe Presses + Lifts


Knee stiffness is a very common occurrence with squatters. In the overhead position, knee flexion is maximized to allow for a vertical torso. Tightness in the calves, hamstrings, and quads can all contribute to poor knee joint movement. Examples of two mobility/stretching exercises for to improve knee function are:

Hip and Quad Stretch

Active/Passive Hamstring Stretches


The hips are a ball and socket joint, allowing for movement in multiple planes of motion (flexion, extension, abduction, adduction, circumduction). The ability to move the joint freely within the hip socket is vital to squatting, as all movement planes are needed throughout the entire range of motion. Poor hip mobility can result from issues at the hip, around the hip, or above or below the hip joint, making this joint by joint checklist a necessary part in the diagnosis of the specific limitation(s) while performing the overhead squat. To articulate joint mobility and control throughout the entire range of motion, I often find myself performing the following movements:


Hip Openers

The Other Half

Part two of this mobility checklist will address thoracic, shoulder, and elbow/wrist mobility as it relates to the overhead squat. By moving through the body in a systematic manner, coaches and athletes should be able to address the limiting joint/muscles/connective tissue impeding a specific movement.

Editors note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein are the authors and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.

Featured Image: @mikejdewar on Instagram

Mike Dewar

Mike Dewar

Mike holds a Master's in Exercise Physiology and a Bachelor's in Exercise Science. Currently, Mike has been with BarBend since 2016, where he covers Olympic weightlifting, sports performance training, and functional fitness. He's a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and is the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at New York University, in which he works primarily with baseball, softball, track and field, cross country. Mike is also the Founder of J2FIT, a strength and conditioning brand in New York City that offers personal training, online programs for sports performance, and has an established USAW Olympic Weightlifting club.

In his first two years writing with BarBend, Mike has published over 500+ articles related to strength and conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, strength development, and fitness. Mike’s passion for fitness, strength training, and athletics was inspired by his athletic career in both football and baseball, in which he developed a deep respect for the barbell, speed training, and the acquisition on muscle.

Mike has extensive education and real-world experience in the realms of strength development, advanced sports conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, and human movement. He has a deep passion for Olympic weightlifting as well as functional fitness, old-school bodybuilding, and strength sports.

Outside of the gym, Mike is an avid outdoorsman and traveller, who takes annual hunting and fishing trips to Canada and other parts of the Midwest, and has made it a personal goal of his to travel to one new country, every year (he has made it to 10 in the past 3 years). Lastly, Mike runs Rugged Self, which is dedicated to enjoying the finer things in life; like a nice glass of whiskey (and a medium to full-bodied cigar) after a hard day of squatting with great conversations with his close friends and family.

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