The Importance Of Assessing The Overhead Squat
Every athlete and client that walks through our door is taken through an initial evaluation. It is important for us to understand how each person moves before we create a training program for them. As there are many aspects to our evaluation, one of our main assessments is the overhead squat. The overhead squat assessment allows us to test symmetrical mobility of the hips, knees, ankles and shoulders from a bilateral standpoint (Functional Movement Screen, Cook, p. 128). We are able to gather a lot of information with the overhead squat assessment, allowing us to better serve our clients needs. During our assessment we look at the overhead squat from an anterior view and lateral view, allowing us to see different angles of their movement. With these two angles we are able to recognize any flaws that our clients may be encountering and the efficiency in their movement.
In the picture above, one of our clients is attempting to perform their overhead squat. From the anterior view it is important to note that we can see a few issues that need to be addressed with this athlete. One being that he has a hip shift to the left, showing us that he may lack internal rotation in his right hip which is why he compensates with the hip shift. The hip shift is leading him into left knee valgus, where is left knee is falling inward. You can notice that his chin and eyes are pointed straight ahead, placing him in a little bit of lower back extension.
As we take our clients through their assessment we are endlessly evaluating the way they move and making notes on each movement. By taking pictures and videos we are able to go back and take a deeper look into their movement, allowing us to break down any red flags we may see. From diagnosing this picture we know what to provide for this athlete in their program to help clean up his movement patterns, with an end goal of moving more efficiently.
In the picture above, the overhead squat is demonstrated with great form and technique. Taking the lateral view into consideration, you can see how clean the movement was performed. When a client performs an overhead squat, like demonstrated above, we know that we are free to challenge them with different adaptations within their training program. Our goal with the overhead squat assessment is to see the efficiency of their movement pattern and the ease or difficulty it takes for them to perform this movement. We look at many different points in the overhead squat, from ankles, knees, hips, shoulders and thoracic spine, so that we can correctly prescribe exercises to enhance their performance or in some cases help them get into the correct position fluently.
We strive to make our assessments very thorough to ensure we are implementing the best training program for each and every client. As we have many categories assembled into our evaluation, the overhead squat is one that we take into serious consideration. As mentioned earlier, we can collect a heavy amount of information based on the performance of the overhead squat. Making sure that we are placing our clients in the best positions possible to make certain that correct muscle activation is taking place.
In an assessment where we may notice a poorly executed overhead squat, we like to be sure of a few aspects within their training program. One piece that we focus heavily on is soft tissue work before they begin their training session. Depending on what they struggle with during their evaluation and specifically their overhead squat, we will target different areas of the body to work soft tissue so that we can enhance tissue extensibility. For instance, if they lack shoulder flexion during their overhead squat assessment it would be important for us to implement soft tissue work to the latissimus dorsi (lats), pectorals, and rhomboids (back). Along with soft tissue work, we provide mobility exercises to help loosen up the muscle groups that may be inhibited at that time. Our evaluation process allows us to deliver a training program that provides the qualities that each client needs to help them reach their peak performance.
We pride ourselves on the point that we never stop evaluating our clients. Every day they come in to train, we watch how they're moving, ask how they're feeling and give the service they need to improve. With us constantly evaluating our clients we are able to best prescribe any progressions or regressions for that matter. We understand that in some instances it's more beneficial to regress on certain exercises to focus more on the basics and teaching that mind to muscle connection that is necessary. We get specific with our soft tissue work, mobility, warm-ups, strength exercises and drills so that we can take strides forward overtime.
Cook, G., Burton, L., Kiesel, K., Rose, G., Bryant, M., & Torine, J. (2020). Movement: Functional Movement Systems: Screening, Assessment, Corrective Strategies. On Target Publications.