Why is it the Overhead Squat Assessment Important?
The overhead squat assessment (OHSA) is the best measure of how health your client’s kinetic chain is. This assessment enables the trainer to analyze every part of the kinetic chain for proper function. Since an overhead squat will utilize all musculature from head to toe to successfully complete, its the perfect movement to measure overall musculoskeletal function. Assessments such as the OHSA are growing more and more important as the average person sits longer each day than any decade in the past. This chronic sitting, most of the time hunched over computer keyboards, has caused an epidemic of lower body and upper body weaknesses/inflexibility. Kinetic chain dysfunction is growing more common in younger generations due to the lack of physical activity and the growing use of technology by even pre-school aged children. It is more important than ever to identify musculoskeletal compromises as soon as they start. This means even screening adolescents not just middle aged office workers with the OHSA.
Assuring Accurate Results During Testing
The OHSA is fairly simple to implement, but it can be easily invalidated if protocols are not followed. To achieve the most honest results, minimal instruction should be given. This may seem contradictory to a personal trainer’s role, but it assures that test results are true and untainted. Any coaching given beyond the basic protocols of the test could alter the path your client’s body naturally wants to take due to muscular imbalances and lack of flexibility. The entire point of this assessment is to identify weak points in your client’s musculoskeletal system, not to correct their form…that comes later. It’s important to get accurate results during this assessment, because most of a client’s exercise program and the rate at which a client should progress will be based on the outcome on this assessment. Even if your client’s goal does not involve correcting muscular imbalances, there is not advisable to have a client progress along the structure of the NASM OPT Model without a good foundation of biomechanics and proper kinetic chain transfer.
Overhead Squat Assessment Protocol Step by Step
- Client should remove shoes.
Most shoes will have a variation in height from toe to heel. The raised heel from most shoes will shift ones weight more forward invalidating results. It is also important to be able to see how the ankle and foot reacts during the OHSA, so shoes and even socks should be completely removed.
- Instruct client client to keep their hands straight up and squat down as low as they feel comfortable for about (15) repetitions.
These instructions seem very vague, and your right. Minimal instruction is best to get the most honest results possible. It may be appropriate to show the client what you are looking for by demonstrating the movement yourself. The repetitions needed to have a through evaluation may vary based on the trainer’s experience with the OHSA
- Trainer should evaluate the client from (3) points of view (Anterior, Lateral, Posterior).
Checking all (3) point of views assures that you will catch even the most subtle deviation in form. If given consent, it would be very beneficial to record a video or at least take pictures of your clients execution of the assessment.
- If trainer suspects the client is not performing well because of unfamiliarity with the movement, form coaching may be warranted.
Because some individuals have never performed a squat or overhead squat, it may be appropriate to try and coach your client to try and produce the most correct form possible. Results will become invalid if inexperience with the movement is the main issue.
- Evaluate your findings for possible breaks in the kinetic chain.
If you suspect there is a musculoskeletal imbalance present, the specific structure in question will need to be assessed with a specific flexibility test or with exercise testing to assess relative strength. Any possible imbalances should present with either a lack of flexibility or with relative weakness.
Below is the NASM Overhead Squat Assessment Checkpoint Table.
Come visit The Fitness Trainer Academy to learn how to correct these deviations and fully understand the concepts of corrective exercise.