Injury Prevention: Overhead Squat

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A tale of the overhead squat (OHS). At the age of 35, I began to compete professionally in BJJ and grappling in the adult category (18 to 29 year olds). OHS primed my body for new levels of stress and fixed postural and physical ailments accumulated over the years.

Overhead squats reinforce proper squat mechanics by exposing hip, knee, and ankle mobility/dexterity issues. Secondly, when executed correctly, they require a powerful core, reinforced shoulder girdle strength, and mobility along with the strengthened thoracic spine. Once problems within the chain are fixed, you will see an increased carry over to regular squats, which are required for all athletic endeavors. Both front and back squats will benefit from your upper body stabilizing and supporting the weight better and maintaining a more vertical movement (decreasing the hip hinge). Conversely, your lower body will bear more weight by improved depth and mobility of your lower back, hip, knees and ankles. These are secrets of success with direct carry over to BJJ, judo, MMA, wrestling, and just about any sport under the sun.

Lastly, if you are new to weightlifting, OHS is an easy, low-risk-of-injury way to identify and uncover any issues you may have because of lighter weights involved. You can see more of the detail regarding injury prevention in the video here.  Because I never really lifted weights in a focused, deliberate matter to support a sport, I had to begin my first lift at 115 pounds with 5lbs plates under my heels. 18 months later, I was able to complete my body weight of 175 lbs for five repetitions.

Olympic weightlifting, in particular the overhead squat (OHS) drove injury prevention and fixed postural and physical ailments from years of abuse in my practice. I felt and performed better in my thirties than I did in my twenties. Additionally, increased range of motion and ballistic loading, saved me numerous times from serious injuries, including 2017 IBJJF Brownbelt Master No-gi World’s quarter final. There my opponent and I both collapsed on a buckled knee of mine, which surprisingly didn’t cave under pressure, but instead caused a hairline fracture in the ankle – a preferred injury between the two.


While you can certainly minimize chances of injury by following methods above, if you are involved in any kind of contact sport, injuries will occur. What you do then to recover and return to the game you love is equally as important as what you do to prevent them. Knowing how to find inspiration and how to overcome fear of reinjury are essential. You can read more about how to move forward, minimize time away and recover from , injury in my blog post here. You will have resolved the fear within and be back with a purpose and focus on how to achieve your fitness and other goals.

What is your favorite exercise, which has helped elevate the individual sport you like to play?

Stay safe and stay healthy. Cheers, Gregor


European turned American! Linguist, traveler, martial arts aficionado, BJJ Black Belt, and a retired executive who decided to pursue grappling full time at 35 and document the journey in order to inspire others to pursue their dreams. These are his ramblings.

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