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Is using a board under my heels during the squat a bad idea?

+6 votes
I’ve been struggling with squats lately and a guy in the gym recommend placing a thin board beneath my heels. This has made a bit of a difference and the squat now feels more comfortable.

Another guy (who’d opinion I respect) saw me squatting with the board and strongly advised against it, said it would be bad news for my back over the long run.

Is he right? The board does make the squat feel more comfortable but I’m concerned about doing any long term damage.
asked Nov 19, 2012 in Exercises by ashleySims Iron Addict (1,045 points)  
0% Accept Rate

2 Answers

+2 votes
The board under the heels helps to releive the "antagonism" created by tight hamstrings and calves...for now the board, will actually help your back (with the heels elevated, you will bend the knee joint to a greater degree and the hip joint to a lesser degree).  

However, you will find yourself squatting and lifting things in and outside the gym without the board present (probably quite frequently), so in the long run, I would advise stretching out the hamstrings and calves (gastrocnemius as well as soleus) to avoid the need to lean farther forward and stress the lumbar spine unnecessarily.

If your hams and calves are flexible and you still prefer the heel elevation (allows a lower squat), it won't be detrimental to your back/erectors/spine.
answered Nov 20, 2012 by Form&FunctionChicago Gym Regular (525 points)  
edited Nov 27, 2012 by RobConnor
+1 vote

Biomechanic science shows us that body proportions will give us the correct answer - if your leg femur is proportionately longer that your torso length, elevating the heels is a viable answer for you, even though that might hurt the knees of the person squatting with you.

All in all, it's a quick fix for poor flexibility, or another alternative would be "weightlifting shoes" as the pic below:

Check this link for more reading about the subject: http://www.davedraper.com/squatting-with-raised-heels.html

answered Dec 9, 2012 by georgef Iron Addict (1,395 points)  
reshown Nov 1, 2014 by RobConnor
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