The Overhead Squat (OHS) assessment is a traditional two-legged squat performed with the arms held overhead. This exercise asseses total body structural alignment, dynamic flexibility and neuromuscular control from a bilateral standing posture.
When I look at a client’s total body structural alignment I am looking to see how the head sits atop the shoulders, how the shoulders rest in relation to the core musculature, how the hips and spine move in relation to the shoulders and core as well as how the lower body is affected by all of the above.
The upper body, core musculature, hips and spine can also be affected by how the legs are aligned through the knees and ankle complex.
When I assess a client’s dynamic flexibility I am trying to see if certain muscles seem tight while others are weak. A common example is if the shoulders are rounded the chest is tight while the muscles of the upper back are weak. Your flexibility or lack thereof can hinder your movment patterns or make you compensate for overly flexible muscles.
When assessing neuromuscular control I want to see if the body shifts to one side or another or if the person has trouble keeping their balance while squatting in a controlled manner. I also get an idea of their overall strength. Very deconditioned people have a hard time doing more than 1 or 2 squats.
The Overhead Squat Assessment consists of the client performing a series of 5 squats with the hands raised overhead. Go figure! The client squats to a depth of average chair height or as low as they can without pain. The OHS is ovserved from 3 angles: antierior (front), lateral (side), and posterior (rear).
I use the NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist assessment form to keep track of kinetic chain compensations for each angle. It is a very handy tool and great to compare a client’s progress from one assessment to the next!
From the front I am looking to see how the knees, feet and ankles respond to squatting. I am looking to see if the feet turn out or if the knees cave in toward each other or splay out away from each other.
From the side I note whether the client has excessive forward lean (more than a 45 degree angle) and if their arms fall forward as they squat down. I am also noting if the client’s lower back arches too much or of the lower back rounds.
From the rear or posterior view I check to see if the heels raise off the floor or the foot flattens inward from the arch to the toes. I also check the hips for an asymmetrical weight shift either to the left or right.
Each compensation is related to overactive and underactive muscles. For each muscle there is a flexibility component, a stabilizing exercise and a strength exercise which will correct the muscle imbalances over time. My clients typically see a 70-80% improvment of their kinetic chain dysfunction in as little as 4 – 6 weeks.
Next time I will be discussing the Single Leg Sqaut assessment and in future posts I’ll show you how to assess yourself!
This entry is filed under Fitness and Weight Loss. And tagged with balance training, corrective exercise for every body, Corrective Exercise Specialist, flexibility, functional assessments, kinetic chain dysfunctio, Nationa Academy of Sports Medicine, overactive muscles, stabilization exercises, strength, stretching, underactive muscles. You can follow any responses to this entry through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.