Assessing Proper Form: Overhead Squat

The most important concept to understand when performing any type of body movement is proper form. This is most easily explained using a full body movement like the overhead squat, but can be applied to many different forms of movements and lifts. The diagrams below show a women performing an overhead squat. The overhead squat assessment is designed to assess dynamic flexibility, core strength, balance and overall neuromuscular efficiency.  (As I continue to describe the actions of proper form, please refer to the pictures shown below.)

First, let’s look at the body checkpoints, NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) refers to these as the kinetic chain checkpoints. The 5 points on the body that are checked would be feet, ankles, knees, hip complex, shoulders, and head.  The kinetic chain can be key indicators of muscle imbalances.  If this is occurring, feedback to correct form should be provided or further assessments must be made to establish to see what muscles need to be stretched, what muscles should be foam rolled (SMR) and what muscles need to be strengthened.  If muscle imbalances are not corrected, this could lead to tissue fatigue and breakdown, leading to injury. Here is a list of what you should look for when someone is performing a squat.

  1. Foot Turns Out/Foot Flattens/Heels Rises
  2. Knees move Inward/Outward
  3. Excess Forward Lean
  4. Lower Back Arch/Lower Back Rounds
  5. Arms fall Forward
  6. Shoulder Elevation

The list above are all signs of postural distortion if corrective verbal feedback has been given and the person is still unable to perform correctly. The pictures below show proper alignment and what should be seen.


Jill Albright, NASM Master Personal Trainer with specializations in Corrective Exercise, Youth Exercise, Senior Exercise, Nutrition, Weightlifting and SAQ Training.


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