The Overhead Squat Assessment is Flawed?

This may rattle some cages but this is what I’ve learnt when using this exercise assessment. Firstly, s&c coaches are not physio therapists but we use similar multi joint screening tests, before performing screening on a joint by joint basis. 

The overhead squat tends to be the go to exercise for movement screening in gym settings. This is a test I have used in the past but don’t anymore and here is why. 

Overhead squat assessments

1️⃣ Athletes can self-organise to complete the task. If you swipe over to the 2nd clip, you can see I perform the squat in two different ways, both of these will likely score well when considering depth. In the 2nd squat I limit forward knee movement which can increase shear force on the low back, but I still complete the task ✅

2️⃣ While the overhead squat assesses movement unloaded to determine an athletes readiness to train, it is usually a different story when the athlete is using load. I’ve seen perfect scores recorded in the assessment then movement patterns completely break down when adding weights, and for normal squatting patterns. 

3️⃣ Motor control can be a limiting factor to successful performance of the exercise. It’s going to be unusual for athletes to perform if they have never done it, like kicking a ball with your non-kicking leg.

4️⃣ You can not determine an issue from an exercise that uses multiple muscles and joints in sync. The body will find the path of least resistance to perform a movement. Imbalances in hamstrings can be hidden during bilateral exercises. 

If there is tightness in the lats or back for example, during the overhead squat the shoulders tend to shift from externally rotated to internally rotated the deeper the squat is performed, this can also effect pelvis orientation. This would then be considered to be a shoulder mobility issue. When the same person performs a back squat this may not be an issue at all. So does failing the overhead squat assessment suggest an individual should not perform other squats, no it 100% does not. 

If your athletes will never be using overhead squats in training why do they need this assessment!

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