One of my favorite tests to use in the clinic has to be the overhead squat test. I have used this test for years since learning the NASM’s Performance Enhancement Specialist system while an undergrad (I use an altered version of their test now). This test is very simple and quick, yet provides a good deal of information regarding an individual’s movement deficiencies. Add in a step down test, some hopping/landing, a trunk stability pushup, and running analysis you will have a great picture of how an athlete moves.
To perform this test, have the athlete/patient raise their arms overhead so that it is in line with their ears (if able). With a shoulder width and barefoot stance, have them squat down as low as they are able 3-5 times while observing them from the front, side, and back.
From the front and back view look at the following:
A. Knee valgus (aka medial knee displacement) – the knees moving towards each other as the athlete descends or ascends. Compare the below picture to the above.
B. Feet rotating outwards
C. Feet collapsing – often associated with knee valgus
Feet turning outwards may indicate a dorsiflexion limitation, tight hamstrings or TFL, and weak glutes. Knee valgus may be from dorsiflexion restrictions, adductor overactivity, and weak glutes. Foot collapse may indication overactivity of peroneals, gastrocs, TFL or under activity of the tibialis muscles or glute med.
From a side view watch for the following faults:
A. Arm drop may indicate tight lats or other shoulder mobility restrictions. It may also indicate a weakness in the scapular musculature.
B. Excessive arching is often the result of tightness in the erectors, hip flexors, or lats. Glute weakness and core instability often accompanies this as well.
C. Low back rounding may be due to hip joint range of motion restrictions, dorsiflexion limitations, and under activity of the core/glutes.
D. Heel rise is most likely from restrictions of dorsiflexion.
E. Forward head is likely due to a combination of cervical muscle and joint restrictions, as well as weakness/under activity of postural stabilizers.
F. Excessive forward lean is often from excessive activity of the calf muscles, hip flexors, and abdominals. Weakness of the anterior tibialis, glutes, and erector spinae may also be the cause.