First, let’s define what “butt wink” is for those of you that are watching the video that may not know.
The term Butt Wink is referring to that moment in a squat where the pelvis rotates backward. So imagine your tailbone tucking in and rotating inward as you get low in your squat.
This is also known as a posterior pelvic tilt which is the opposite of an anterior pelvic tilt. Now the problem with butt wink is that
when you’re holding a heavyweight load like in a squat for example and your pelvis rotates backward there is a lot of extra tension on your lower back and your disks.
This could lead to an injury to the lower back, especially when you really exaggerate this posterior tilt of the pelvis.
So what’s my problem with “butt wink,” well I actually have multiple problems with the idea of butt wink.
Fist I think it’s been taken out of proportion and any sort of tiny posterior rotation of the pelvis is now considered bad form.
The truth is that there isn’t only a backward or forward rotation of the pelvis, but there is also a natural neutral spine in between these two positions.
Usually when someone begins a squat before even starting they exaggerate the forward tilt in their pelvis.
And this isn’t wrong, in fact, I have my clients start with almost an anterior pelvic tilt on multiple exercises like squats, deadlifts, and rows.
I even give them cues like stick your butt out and stick your chest out when they’re performing these exercises.
And the reason why we want to tilt our pelvis forward before starting these movements is that as soon as you’re holding a heavyweight load in exercises like squats or deadlifts
for example, that weight is putting tension on your lower back and it’s causing your pelvis to want to rotate backward and your spine to want to flex forward.
So by starting off with our butts rotated out and by keeping all the muscles in the lower back tight when the weight load we’re lifting is added to the equation and it’s pulling on our spine in the opposite direction
we wind up having more of a neutral spine. A neutral spine is actually what we want in order to protect our lower back from injury.
So my first problem with butt wink is that as soon as most people see a slight backward rotation of the pelvis while going down during a squat they call it to butt wink
when in reality it’s simply the spine switching from that exaggerated extended position to a neutral position.
Now when this happens the solution that most trainers and physical therapists recommend is the implementation of corrective exercises as well as stretches.
Which brings me to my second problem with the general notion of butt wink, it’s not always caused by a flexibility or mobility issue.
In fact, it may be more genetic than anything and nobody ever considers that. The depth of your hip sockets will actually greatly affect how soon you’ll experience “butt wink on your way down for a squat.
If you have really deep hip sockets the sooner your thigh bone and pelvis will come in contact during hip flexion as you get lower in your squat.
Once your thigh bone and pelvis meet, the range of motion in the hips locks and the only way you’ll go further down into the squat is by flexing the spine.
On the other hand, if you have shallow hip sockets you’ll have a lot more space before the thigh bone and pelvis meet allowing you to squat deeper before your spine is forced into flexion.
My point here is that you can do all the mobility work, corrective stretching, and practice perfect form but it’s not going to change the bone structure of your hips.
So does this mean that those of us with better squatting genetics should squat while the rest of us should not?
My answer is a definite no we should all be able to squat because the squat is a very natural movement.
Regardless of whether you have very deep or very narrow hip sockets EVERY single person that performs a squat will experience some form of butt wink with enough depth in their squat.
Depending on how far this butt wink goes determines if it’s harmful to your lower back or not. If you experience slight spinal flexion and wind up going from an extended spine to a neutral spine then you’re not really increasing your risk of injury.
It’s only when you truly enter a state of deep spinal flexion or the complete relaxation of your spinal erectors and your core that you increase the risk of injury to your lower back.
The other thing to consider is how low you want to go for your squat. When you stop at parallel your working the quads more than the glutes.
On the other hand when you go all the way down your incorporating a lot more of your glutes into the movement.
Even though going lower than parallel may be a mistake if you’re training for a powerlifting competition if you are training for mobility functionality
or for better development of the glutes, I believe that you should get nice and low for your squats.
Some people believe you should never go lower for a squat than parallel, but there’s no denying that before we had toilets the original squat was a deep squat and it was done every time we had to use the bathroom.
The ideal proper form for using the bathroom is in a butt wink position with the spine flexed. Obviously, we can argue that there wasn’t a heavyweight load on our backs while doing this deep squat, but I bring this up for two reasons.
One of our bodies is very capable of getting into a low squat with slight spinal flexion because it was a natural range of motion that we repeated daily.
And two even if you don’t believe that we should do ass to the grass squats you have to acknowledge that
as you get lower in a squat regardless of whether you have narrow hip sockets, great mobility, or great flexibility you will still experience some butt wink.
So are we all doomed to get an injury to our lower back sooner or later? Again the answer is no, and to prove this we just have to take a look at powerlifters that lift extremely heavy loads in spinal flexed positions without injury.
You can see these spinal flexed positions when these strongmen are deadlifting and especially every single time they are lifting stones.
Some of these awkward stones weigh 400 plus pounds and the proper way to lift them is in a butt wink position.
There are other athletes as well like wrestlers that spend long lengths of time hunched over in a spinal flexed position and that doesn’t seem to correlate with an increased risk of injury to the lower back.
Now none of this applies if your squatting with full flexion of the spine due to bad form, mobility, or flexibility.
If that is the case there are a couple things you should try to do to lessen the degree of spinal flexion.
First of all, you want to squat with your feet wider apart and pointed outwards. This can be especially helpful if you have a belly and it presses up against your thighs at the bottom of your squat.
Next, you’ll want to keep your core engaged during your squatting and bending movements and focus on sticking your chest out and your butt out. Another thing you can do is try different variations of the squat to assess if it’s more of a balance issue.
You can try front barbell squats or goblet squats. You can also try stretching the hamstrings if they’re tight, but more often than not I don’t really see this helping much.
Regardless it’s worth a try to rule out tight hamstrings. When stretching the hamstrings you want to maintain an anterior pelvic tilt rather than bent straight over with your spine flexed because that’s the exact position you’re trying to avoid.
That’s it guys I really hope this tips have helped you out And Let me know what you think about butt wink in the comments below, I’d love to get a discussion going to help answer questions that I might’ve not addressed in this video.
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