How Endurance Athletes Can Prevent Injuries With the Overhead Squat Test

Running, cycling and triathlon depend on proper form and efficiency if injury is to be avoided. When the body is in perfect balance, there is no pain, no loss of range of motion, and no injury.

But, deviations within the soft tissue compromises range of motion, causing athletes to develop some overactive muscles and other muscles that are weaker by comparison. This combination can cause a loss of range of motion, which leads to more labored movement, increased risk of injury and pain.

If you're prone to injuries, currently experience pain when you run, swim or cycle, or even if you just want to take a proactive approach to prevent injury, take a two-minute test to see if there is any dysfunction in your soft tissue.

More: 3 Ways to Build an Injury-Proof Foundation for Running

Start with your lower extremities by first looking at your feet and knees. For best results, stand in front of a partner—he or she should look at the anterior view (front side) of your body. You can also do this in front of a mirror if no one is available to give you feedback. Videos and pictures allow you to see these movements for yourself, and to see future progressions as you correct your imbalances.

Begin by facing your partner or mirror. Put your arms straight above you in the air and perform three squats. The first check point you want to look at is your feet. Watch what happens to your feet: Do your arches flatten out; do your feet turn out? Next, while watching the knees, perform three more squats.

Do the knees cave in? If the answer is yes to any of these, you have work to do.

More: How to Find Your Weaknesses as a Runner and Avoid Injury

Now turn your focus to your torso. Turn your body so that your partner is looking at the lateral view (side view) of your body. Perform three overhead squats and hold the pose for a few seconds. Ask your partner look at your lower back. When you are in the deepest part of the squat, does your lower back arch excessively?

Next, move your focus to the upper torso. Stay in the lateral view position and perform three more overhead squats, again, holding the pose for a few seconds. As you squat down, does your upper body lean far forward? If there is dysfunction, it can look like you're folding in half at the waist.

For the last view, look at your arms. Stay in the lateral view position and perform three overhead squats, holding the pose for a couple of seconds. Do your arms fall forward?

Learn how to spot common form deviations that can reveal potential injuries in the future as well as fixes for these issues. If you are dealing with any of these deviations, it takes patience and persistence to start seeing changes. Creating a balanced, aligned body takes persistence, but you'll reduce your chance of injury, and your body will feel so much better.

More: How Athletes Can Fix 6 of the Most Common Form Deviations

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