Saturday, December 30, 2006

From a PT Standpoint: Overhead Squats

This comment was posted recently:
Anonymous said...

From a PT stand point what are your views on Overhead Squats for a Pitcher in Baseball

Well, in general I try not to look at things from just an American PT stand point. If I did, I'm afraid I would never squat (overhead or otherwise) nor put anything over my head. I might be stuck in wall squat and Theraband purgatory. Being around the sport of weightlifting has been invaluable to my growth as a physical therapist.

I try to
  • be open and look at movements and exercises as a coach and athlete as well.
  • keep in mind the human body responds to stresses in many positive ways, not just negatively.
  • keep in mind the body types, postures and common movements/ROM of other cultures.
Many of my colleagues are incapable of thinking "outside the PT box" and that, in my opinion, is a shame. They fear movements, positions and efforts they themselves could never achieve and so they pooh-pooh it for everyone. And they contribute to the perpetual myths like "do not squat below 90 degrees" or "don't let your knees go over your toes" or "overhead motions are dangerous for overhead athletes."

As for the question, I don't think OHS's are inherently bad or necessary for any athlete. They can be a productive part of a program for many, as a warm up and total body mobility/stability/core control drill. If the athlete has poor ankle, hip, shoulder or thoracic spine mobility, I doubt I'd recommend them if the athlete were older. I'd pick my battles carefully. Obviously, they are not essential for anyone to become an elite baseball pitcher. Does this particular athlete need something that doing overhead squats might provide him? Can we use another implement besides a barbell?

But I do believe in all athletes, especially young overhead athletes, developing and maintaining comprehensive shoulder mobility and stability. And in my book, that includes pressing overhead with the barbell (doesn't have to be heavy and should include behind the neck work), dumbbells and headstand/handstand work.

Mr. Zhang, pictured above, certainly takes the overhead squat/squat jerk to the limits of human shoulder stability and mobility. Isn't the human body amazing?

1 comment:

Matt S said...

I particularly like the point you made about the human body responding to stress in POSITIVE ways.

For example, I notice old back injuries creeping in when I'm not training. When I am training, I feel no such pain, not even an inkling!

I loved that picture, too! Wow!