The squat is a fundamental human movement! From bending down to pick up your kids, to performing in a weight room, it is essential to understand how to squat. As with all movements though, not everyone can squat the same. One of the best resources to explain why everyone needs to squat different comes from Dr. Ryan Debell of The Movement Fix in the article: http://themovementfix.com/the-best-kept-secret-why-people-have-to-squat-differently/. This article goes into great detail of how the anatomy of our hip capsules can alter the way we squat.
Another important consideration when deciding the best way to squat is the relative length of our Femurs in relation to the amount of Ankle Dorsiflexion that is afforded to us. If a person has a longer femur, then it only makes sense that their center of mass is going to be further posterior (back) in their squat. This demands them to have more ankle mobility if their not going to be flexing in the low back (which is what we definitely want to avoid in a loaded squat).
Now ankle mobility is definitely something we can improve upon. There are many dorsiflexion exercises online, and the key to improving ankle mobility is consistently doing these exercises over time. Again, I like an exercise from The Movement Fix https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1TFY5b-j80 as a great way to improve ankle mobility. There are a TON of other exercises that you can find online that include foam rolling, end range loading, etc. that are all good options (there are some bad options too). One disclaimer I would like to give is that if you are feeling a lot of pain and pinching in the front part of your ankle, you may have a bony impingement going on, in which the best solution then would be to squat with a heel lift instead of hurting your ankle.
In some areas a heel lift is frowned upon, like your not “tough” if you use a heel lift. As far as I’m concerned, if you don’t have to mobility to get into a deep squat, and a heel lift allows you to do that safely, it SHOULD be used. There is no need to get injured training if you can avoid it.
*It is recommended to consult a movement specialist before performing any of these movements.
Dr. Kirk Mason, Premier Chiropractic, Minot Chiropractor