Do you have a dreaded case of the “Butt Wink”? No matter what you do, you can’t stop going into lumbar flexion at the bottom of the squat.
Well, first off, “butt wink” is not the end of the world. For those who don’t know what “butt wink” is, it’s when a squat is being performed and the sacrum (tailbone) “tucks” under the body and there is movement from an extended or neutral lumbar spine to a flexed lumbar spine.
Now, as said before, it is not the end of the world. The problem arises when this movement is loaded, performed for high repetition, and/or done repeatedly over time. This repetitive flexion at the lumbar spine can create issues long term at the hips and lumbar spine.
Reasons why someone may “Butt Wink” can range from:
-Joint Capsule Restrictions
-Soft Tissue Restrictions
-Bony Hip Joint Anatomy
-Impaired Core Stability
Check out my guest post on Dr. John Rusin’s website, “Stop Squatting Through That Painful Hip Pinch” for more detail about those reasons.
For the brevity of this post, here is one quick tip to improve your technique and to potentially avoid any type of spinal movement from happening.
Literally, where you start can dictate where you are going to finish. What is meant by that is that where you begin a lift technique-wise can often dictate how the lift is going to be finished or performed.
For example, with the squat, if we start with a heavy arch, rib flare, and overly extended,
1 of 3 things is typically going to happen.
Now, there is nothing wrong with a decreased depth on squat. Some individuals cannot squat to depth due to their hip anatomy, joint/soft tissue restrictions, etc.
In the case of “Butt Wink”, if you are already starting in a heavy arched/lumbar extension position as shown in the picture above, eventually your hip joints are going to run out of space. When there is no mobility left to be used, somewhere else in the body will have to pick up the slack.
Typically, the lumbar spine will compensate and flex to allow for increased movement into the bottom of the squat. This is not advantageous due to the reasons mentioned in the beginning of this post.
So, if you are someone who typically flexes at the bottom of the squat, try setting up in a more neutral spine position.
When you unrack the weight and step back to prepare to squat down, before you do, perform a slight posterior pelvic tilt.
As you can see in the video, the person squatting performs a posterior pelvic tilt where they “tuck their tailbone” and go from a slightly extended lumbar spine posture to a more neutral lumbar spine posture.
What this pelvic tilt does is to allow the participant’s hips to have a little bit more mobility as they descend into the bottom of the squat.
If they are starting out in an anterior pelvic tilt/extended lumbar spine, etc.
photo credit: bretcontreras.com
as shown on the picture on left, eventually the hip will no longer have space to accommodate the femoral head. When someone “butt winks”, their body is artificially creating more space for that femoral head to move within the acetabulum. This is done at a cost to the lumbar spine when flexed under load, for high repetitions, and/or for prolonged periods of time.
So instead of continuing to bang your head against the wall and “butt wink” at the bottom of a squat, try setting up in a more neutral spine position!
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