Since asking this question quite some time ago I have been on a quest to be able to squat.
I quickly managed to solve the ankle issue I was having by stretching daily against objects under my desk at work, but I still wasn't able to perform a squat. I can get parallel and all the way down into quite a low squat now without a bar, but once I add weight I find it really difficult and feel a lot of pain in my groin, inside my thighs, around the knees and and in my ankles (which make a crunching sound as I get to parallel).
I read the first chapter of Starting Strength and watched a tonne of videos of Mark explaining the squat. I noticed him mention that the knees should be outward in the same direction as your toes throughout the movement (at about 30 degrees). This is when I realized that when I stand up and point my feet straight ahead, my knees actually point inward at about 20-30 degrees. I also noticed that when I stand and walk, I generally do so with my toes pointed outward. This becomes an issue when I try to squat because I end up with my feet angling out extremely far so that my knees are wide enough to perform the squat (exceeding 45 degrees). If I try maintain a 30 degree angle with my feet all the way down, my knees end up buckling in the middle.
Is this problem something I can work on, or am I just born this way? Would I need to get an operation on my knees maybe to correct it, or are there exercises that I can perform to correct the angle of my knees over time? Any advice is appreciated. If anyone has any experience with this problem, especially related to performing a squat, then please share how you overcame it.
PS I have been squatting for several months; I've been using the Smith Machine and I haven't been able to increase my weight at all since starting even though I do them every week. I assume bad form because of my knees and the use of the Smith Machine is the reason for this. I have however increased my weight on leg press machine immensely (started on 40kg, now do 160kg).