Why Is the Overhead Squat So Difficult?
I am no mobility guru, and to be honest I have had a little bit of a hard time buying into the whole mobility/Functional Movement Screening craze that seems to be sweeping the fitness nation. What I do buy into is plain and simple hard work and the few mobility exercises that have worked for me and numerous other athletes with whom I have worked. If you follow my Dynamic Athlete programming at Train Heroic, I do not necessarily include OHS into every week; however, snatches are common place, and the OHS is the foundation of that movement. If you want a better OHS, you need to spend a lot of time overhead squatting. It is that simple. If you are looking for a quick fix, I would recommend that you stop reading right now. But if you are in it for the long haul, here is a look at a few of the techniques that work.
Overhead Squat Problem #1: Ankle/Hip Mobility
When you attempt your OHS, have you noticed that your toes turn out as you get lower in the squat? If so, your ankles are not dorsiflexing enough to achieve the proper depth; as a result, your body is finding a way to accomplish what you are asking of it by spinning the toes out. Most of the time this will be at the cost of the knees caving inwards and the weight shifting towards the ball of the foot, putting excessive strain on the medial side of the knee. This will cause your performance to suffer due to instability and the inability of the posterior chain to fire in this poor position. It will put the strain primarily on the quads and can cause overuse injuries over time.
Grab hold of a rack or other solid object for balance and squat down to the bottom of your squat keeping your back flat. Now one side at a time, shift your weight forward flexing ankle as much as possible. Be sure that the heel stays down, and the knee moves forward — not in — out over the toes. Spend at least two minutes every other day working on this and you should see a noticeable improvement within two weeks or less. This can also do wonders for tight hips. While you are in the bottom, use your elbow to push the knees out, stretching out the adductors. Use the rack to pull your hips toward your ankles in the bottom. Work hard to keep your back flat.