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Overactive and Underactive Muscles Part 2: Excessive Forward Lean and Low Back Arches

You asked about it - you got it! This is part two of three episodes (listen to the first part here) where the subject of overactive and underactive muscles is discussed. This episode covers two common motion compensations when assessing the squat:

  • Excessive forward lean
  • Low Back Arch

Listen to an overview of short muscles that lead to this compensation and elongated muscles that make it possible to compensate. These episodes are anatomically difficult and can help the listener better understand functional anatomy. Functional anatomy helps listeners better understand how muscles can contribute to movement compensation and dysfunction. The results can enable a better implementation of the exercise preparation AND may help you when you are studying for an exam ... ;-)

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You are listening to the Kur-Apotheke-Badherrenalb-CPT podcast with Rick Richey, the official podcast of the.

Welcome to the Kur-Apotheke-Badherrenalb-CPT-Podcast. My name is Rick Richey, and today we're going to come back to some of the topics you gave us. This is a continuation of the themes that have come back primarily from everyone. Most of the feedback we've received is a review of the over and underactive muscles. So today we will be looking around at two things in particular.

We will look at excessively sloping and low arches. So these are our two things we're going to look at today, excessive forward leaning and low arches. I think a lot of people have given feedback on this because it is a main focus of Kur-Apotheke-Badherrenalb trying to find a balance, to create movement in an ideal form, an ideal position, and that's not necessarily when You do an overhead squat needs to look like this, but you should be able to point straight ahead on an overhead squat, with your second and third toes pointing straight ahead, not just your big toe, second and third toes straight ahead, knees straight forward, hips aligned, chin pulled in, shoulders up, shoulders pulled back or in a neutral position, arms above your head, all these wonderful things, and when you crouch down and reaching a stool depth Ideally, there is no compensation.

If you've done several of these squats and come back up and we're reviewing you and looking at you, ideally you will look the same as you did before you started the squat. Her feet were still pointing straight ahead; Your knees are still in alignment, your pelvis is still in alignment, your head is still there without protruding forward or arms falling forward. So there are several things we are looking at in relation to valuation, and reviews will make you unique positions to see if you leave those positions.

The most important thing in assessment to be aware of is that especially when there has been pain, we need to be aware of it, but we are not focusing on it at the moment. That's part of our assessment and then we know we have to stop, but now let's look at the feedback on those assessments. So when I have someone we will go for the first one, an excessive forward lean.

When I have someone with an excessive forward lean when they crouch, which means they start to lower themselves down in a squat position and their body folds forward so it's almost like they're bowing , then I'll create, I'll write that down. In fact, I'll write it down as you move out of what we call the tibia-torso angle. When my tibia moves forward 20 degrees, my upper body moves forward 20 degrees as well. If one is 40 degrees, the other is 40 degrees. So we're just looking at a tibia-torso angle, and 40 degrees is a bit too big, but get this when you take two dowels or rods and line them up parallel to the shin and torso and someone walks in while crouching, these things should be move together to keep the tibia and trunk parallel or relatively parallel.

Now, in an excessive forward lean, you will see the upper body break this parallel line and fold a little onto the body. Excessive forward lean. What is causing this? In our textbook, and especially at the time of recording, we are in our sixth edition of the textbook. These are some of the things we are going to focus on and be mindful of, and that current component could be there, and you can see that the very first there could be the Soleus and the Gastrocnemius. And to relatively new people who are into exercise science and understand human mechanics, biomechanics, and movement science, it is confusing that when I lean forward excessively on my torso, what on earth you are talking about when you say me Do you have tight calves that is why my upper body leans excessively? They just don't connect, it doesn't make sense and I didn't like it either.

When I first heard this I thought, here we are again with this crazy conversation, but that's a lot of truth, and actually I would say that this is not a cure-pharmacy-Badherrenalb quote, it's not research, but I'd say that 95 percent or more of the excessive forward lean is due to having tight calves.

So these gastroc and soleus limit the dorsiflexion you get in your squat. I mean, they're a big component, a major factor in why people lean forward excessively, or why they lean forward when doing their overhead squat assessment or squats in general. Why? Part of it is because you don't have dorsiflexion, and part of it is because you have most likely been taught not to let your knees go over your toes when you crouch, and I'll say this when you let go Do not move your knee slightly forward in front of your toes, then you will not be able to do so in an ideal shape. The knees need to be able to go past the toes, and if they don't, you will have excessive forward lean.

Well then people are like this, I've been told never to let my knees go over my toes. Why? You cannot let your knees go over your toes. Yes you can. I want you to think about the following. I don't want your heels off the floor. When your heels start to rise, not even off the ground, but shift your weight in the balls of your feet and you feel like there is less weight on the heel, you will see the feet when they turn out or the heels rise, they can shift. You might get a lot more pressure in your knees because you have more weight in the balls of your feet, so it's not about the knees going forward the toes; if you don't share your body's weight across the entire platform of your foot.

What this also doesn't mean is that when you crouch, I hear a lot of people say that you put your weight on your heels. No, put your weight in the heel and ball of the foot and divide it, but when the weight shifts forward and the knees go too far over the toes, the heels start lifting off the floor and this is where the fault lies. You want to hold the weight and pressure in the ball and heel of the foot and get off, and your knees can go beyond your toes. If your heels stay on the ground, unless you have an extremely long foot, you are fine and your knees go past your toes.

With that said, the knees are fine to go over the toes. Don't let the heels rise from the floor. It became a wonderful queue that turned into a practice dogma, and it doesn't need to maintain that status. Let's get back to that. The knees can go beyond the toes; Don't let the weight come off your heels, however, and you'll need to look at and evaluate your client from different angles. You have to go around them. You need to see what it looks like on the lateral side of your foot. If the heels come up on the back side, check. You may have to do this without shoes. Ideally, this is how you set up your squat. Your client has no shoes on, and then the excessive forward lean comes because you cannot keep your knees or because you cannot get dorsiflexion from the forward translating tibia. So if you don't have that sagittal plane range of movement on your foot and ankle, then your hip is going to steal it, right? I can't get this range of motion on my ankle, I'll take it on my hip.

And so the range of motion is preserved, but it is taken from different joints, and so it will cause you to create that excessive forward lean, so the gastroc and soleus, the calf muscles, are listed there mainly because when I am I in the queue, don't let your knees go over your toes, or my muscles are so tense that I can't keep my heels on the floor and my knees can move easily over my toes then you will fall forward or up your torso create an excessive forward lean.

And what else could lead to excessive forward lean? Well, your hip flexors, because excessive forward bend really means a lot of hip flexion. So you get a lot of hip flexion so the forward lean of the trunk comes from the hip flexion so your hip flexor complex can be a component that can be a driving factor in excessive forward leaning. A component, a piece of it. In this context, we also have the abdominal complex as being overactive, and what this is probably referring to is less an excessive forward lean but rather a flexion of the spine.

So you have people who don't lean forward from the hips but bend forward at the spine, then that will be the abdominal complex. The abdominal muscles will flex the spine so you may have some overactivity in this abdominal complex and create a flexion or tilt in the back of the pelvis, something that allows this to happen.

Let's look at the underactive muscles here. This coincides with the muscles of the calf, gastrocnemius, and soleus, and an underactive muscle would be the anterior tibialis. Anterior tibialis, when you go to your shin, that shin is called your tibia, and you go straight to the side of it and to the front of the leg, to the front of the leg, to the front, and you feel it's the anterior tibialis. So when you pull your foot into dorsiflexion, feel the muscle jump into your fingers as you dorsiflex as you push the muscle. Your anterior tibialis is a much smaller muscle than your calf, so it makes sense for it to lose to your calf muscles.

However, your calf muscles should have the extensibility of 15-20, ideally 20 degrees of dorsiflexion, and your anterior tibialis should be strong enough to pull you there, which means I need to have both extensibility in my calf muscles and strength in my anterior tibialis, to pull me into this range of motion. So there is give and take here. I should have extensibility with the overactive muscles that I probably don't have. I should have strength in the underactive muscles through a full range of motion that I probably don't have.

I am currently looking at overactive muscles, excessive forward lean, gastrocnemius and soleus limiting dorsiflexion, and the anterior tibial underactivity is a dorsiflexor and the primary, then I need to balance the foot and ankle complex. When my hip flexors are short, tight, and overactive on the hip flexors, resulting in excessive forward lean, the primary muscle that is underactive and not slowing down is my gluteus maximus.

The Glute Max is your primary hip extensor and so it may not slow down the flexion at the hip adequately as you have a lot of hip flexion which is why the hip flexor complex is a major part of it. And then the abdominal complex. If I bend my spine while squatting, what are my spinal extensors? And as a grouping, we refer to your primary as Erector Spinae.

So the erector spines are not doing what they have to do to maintain the upright position required on the spine. Well, I like what I'm listening to right now. That is all good content. So let's go further down this vein and move into our next component, the low-back arches or, we will often refer to them as the anterior pelvic slope.

An anterior pelvic slope. Well, one of the things that confuses a lot of people with an anterior pelvic tilt, people get really confused with an anterior pelvic tilt. It often happens that when you stick your butt out because their focus is on them, they think they have a hard time realizing the inclination of the anterior and posterior pelvis. So when I extend my back outward, which is my rearward, it is not a rearward tilt. That is a forward bias.

So you need to identify where your reference point is. Because you can't tell, you can't have a moving reference point. The reference point we will be using is the upper front part of the pelvis. So we look at the top of the pelvis from the front and when the top of the pelvis tilts forwards, to the right or forwards, the buttocks protrude. An inclination of the anterior pelvis thus leads to an arch in the back, since a rhythm is associated with the hip complex of the lumbopelvus. So when in a standing position the incline of the front pelvis occurs, there is an arch in the lower back and a flexion of the hip that follows.

Now let's look at what muscles might be tense when the lower back arches over the head when assessing the squat. Assessing the overhead squat, arches in the lower back, or an incline of the front pelvis - the first thing we will pay attention to is the hip flexor complex. This has a few components that are tricky here. For one, there are many muscles in the hip flexor complex. There is the psoas, and this is a primary one that we will look at, but also the iliac. Let's pay attention to it and why this is important because the psoas has its proximal point of attachment to the anterior transverse processes of bodies and even discs of the lumbar spine, even up to T-12, so chest 12 to the lumbar spine, and it connects to the Spine and then crosses the hip and is your primary hip flexor.

However, when this muscle becomes tense, it can compress the spine, and it can also cause the back to arch by pulling forward and enlarging the lordotic curve in the spine, and this lordosis will be the anterior public inclination being exacerbated anyway so that you have a muscle causing two of these primary compensation patterns that we're going to look at. Curvature of the lower back and inclination of the front pelvis. So we have the hip flexor complex, psoas, iliacus, what are other hip flexors? You could probably throw rectus femoris in there. Let's say TFL. There are many other hip flexors too, but I don't want to overwhelm with content, but on the hip flexor complex, what do we mainly look at and what else happens then that causes the back to arch? Which muscle connects directly to the spine, causing the back to arch?

Well that will be the erector spine. The erector spines arise, and you can do it now by just arching your back. That is most likely where you will feel it, which is in your back and you will feel the erector muscles working.One of the other things we're going to look at with the arch of the lower back as well is to think about it because these are arms that go over the head when I put my arms over my head or when your clients do, and from the standing position, when your arms go over your head, you will see your back arch.

That's because the lats, which when we look at the anatomy of the lats, cling to the arms, that is, the anterior medial portion of the humerus, and somehow get through the armpit, down the back and into our thoracolumbar fascia, actually connect our lats with our lumbar spine and actually with the back of our pelvis, so that we reach our arms above us and I lack freedom of movement on my lats when I push my arms over us. I will steal freedom of movement from my spine by arching my back to give it to my shoulder so I can take my arm all over me. So in this position the lats get tight, or possibly tight, and then I have a number of underactive muscles.

These are overactive muscles that cause this lumbopelvic hip - not lack of optimal alignment, they say dysfunction, there are a lot of things I don't want to think too much about dysfunction, but it is certainly not as functional as it should be and it is can also lead to things like lower back pain, so of course we don't want that, but we have muscles that are overactive, our hip flexor complex, erector spines, and latissimus dorsi. What are our underactive muscles? Well, if my hip flexors are the primary overactive muscle, then what is my primary hip extensor? Here we go.

But you can also see the hamstring complex there. Now the hamstrings can be a part of it. When my lower back arches, my hamstrings pull down on my sciatic tuberosities and it can create a neutral position or cause the posterior pelvis to tilt. So when I'm in an anterior pelvic incline, my hamstrings are in an elongated position. But let me stop you there and tell you that the first thing to focus on is the gluteus maximum as the hamstrings tend to be the synergists that create this dominant activation for the glutes. So if you're doing hamstring activations and haven't worked on your glutes, it will make it even harder for your glutes to fire. I do and see this anecdotally with customers in this environment all the time. If I don't calm the hamstrings, the hamstrings will be the main driving force in so many glute activation exercises that I am trying to find people to do and think about things like bridges and hip bumps when my hamstrings are more active than I need to my glutes, stepping back on them, trying to limit the activation of the hamstrings and that underactive component, so my glutes start to be the main drive. And then, even if my arches in the lower back have some weaknesses, possibly in my intrinsic core, and when we talk about the intrinsic core, we are generally talking about local stabilization systems, i.e. the transverse abdominis, the internal obliques, multifidi muscles, muscles that are more stabilizers, and it could be part of some larger muscle as well, but it is primarily those intrinsic core stabilizers that we will watch out for that can be adversely underactive and we need to stabilize them.

So go over what we talked about again. Excessive forward leaning, overactive muscles, soleus, gastrocnemius, hip flexor complex, abdominal complex. The underactive muscles in excessive forward leaning may be the anterior tibialis, gluteus maximus, and erector spines. Arches in the lower back, overactive muscles would be the hip flexor complex, the erectile spine and latissimus dorsi; the underactive muscles, the gluteus maximus, the potential thigh complex, and the intrinsic core stabilizers.

Well, just so you know, this is not an exhaustive list of short, overactive, or underactive muscles, nor does it mean that those muscles are the problem, but from our point of view, when we look at human motion science, we will say based on biomechanics and functional anatomy, these are the muscles that would appear to be tense, and here's the thing, you're going to be doing a warm-up anyway. You will still warm up your customers. Make sure you do a warm up that makes sense for your customers based on specific reviews. And the Overhead Squat Assessment is a great, comprehensive assessment that, as a personal trainer, can look at the upper extremity, lumbopelvic hip complex, and lower extremity to see how to best work on your client's unique needs. Thanks for listening. This is the Kur-Apotheke-Badherrenalb-CPT-Podcast with Rick Richey.