PT on the Net Research

Overhead Squat


Question:

I've seen some instructors teaching a squat with an over head press at the same time. I find this causes discomfort in the low back, and ROM in the shoulder is limited. What are your thoughts or comments on this move?

Answer:

This is not an uncommon issue. A perfect squat to overhead press is a great total body exercise, yet it requires optimal active ROM of the shoulder girdle, specifically of the shoulder extensors (i.e. Latissimus Dorsi, Teres Major, Posterior Deltoid and Triceps).

Let's particularly consider the origin and insertion of the Latissimus Dorsi:

Ideally, there should be 180 degrees of active shoulder flexion. This means absolutely no compensation at the lumbar spine by way of excessive lordosis. When considering the origin and insertion of the lat, it's not hard to understand how restriction/tightness in this muscle could cause shoulder and low back discomfort when loading these joints in this manner... it's simply the body's way of centering it's mass when restriction is present. The body is a master of compensation. 

It is also important to understand that rarely are there isolated incidences in the body. If the lats are restricted, there are probably other muscle imbalances as well. Upper crossed posture (characterized by rounded shoulders and a forward head) may be generally what your experiencing. Here are some details:

Upper Crossed Posture 

Short muscles to be stretched: upper traps, levator scapulae, sternocleidomastoid, lats, pec major/minor

Lengthened muscles to be strengthened: deep cervical flexors, serratus anterior, rhomboids, mid traps, lower traps

The following articles will help you in identifying this and other similar situations:

  1. POSTURAL PROFILE by Lenny Parracino
  2. MUSCULAR BALANCE OR FLEXIBILITY PROFILE by Lenny Parracino
  3. OVERHEAD SQUAT: TOTAL BODY PROFILE by Lenny Parracino
  4. A SIMPLE GUIDE TO STRETCHING by Lenny Parracino
  5. INTEGRATED ANATOMY FOR THE NEW MILLENNIUM by Lenny Parracino
  6. SELF-MYOFASCIAL RELEASE TECHNIQUES by Alan Russell