The concept of "butt wink" in the fitness industry refers to the posterior tilting of the pelvis that occurs at the bottom of a squat movement. It is considered a movement fault and is often associated with concerns about lumbar flexion and potential risks to the lower back. However, whether butt wink is bad or not depends on various factors and individual context.
Butt wink is actually a normal physiological movement that happens as you squat down and reach the end range of hip flexion. The amount of butt wink can vary between individuals, and it is a way for the body to seek more depth in the squat position. Some degree of butt wink is unavoidable and physiologically normal.
The potential issues with butt wink are the relative lumbar flexion that accompanies it and the belief that loaded lumbar flexion can increase shear forces and the risk of disc herniations. However, it's important to understand that the neutral position of the pelvis and lumbar spine is within a range, and some movement or flexibility is acceptable and even ideal.
The causes of butt wink can vary. While tight hamstrings are often mentioned as a cause, it's not always the primary factor. At the bottom of a squat, the hamstrings are stretched at the hip but have some slack at the knee due to its flexed position. Tight glutes or restrictions in the hip capsule can also contribute to early butt wink.
Additionally, issues related to hip structure or lack of lumbopelvic control in individuals who are hypermobile may affect their ability to limit butt wink under load.
Whether butt wink is considered bad depends on the context. Factors such as how early it occurs in the range of motion, the amount of lumbar flexion associated with it, and the load being lifted need to be considered. Some subtle butt wink at the very bottom of the squat, while maintaining lumbar extension and control, is generally acceptable and not necessarily problematic.
To address butt wink, a multifaceted approach can be taken. Mobilization exercises can help create space in the hips by addressing restrictions in the glutes or hamstrings. Activation exercises can improve awareness and control of the lumbar extensors to prevent flexion. Integration exercises, such as using squat variations with weight closer to the center of the torso, can help reinforce lumbopelvic control under load.
In summary, butt wink is a normal physiological movement that occurs during squats, but excessive or early butt wink may indicate limitations or inefficiencies. It is important to consider individual context, assess factors such as lumbar flexion, and work on mobility, stability, and control to optimize squat technique and reduce the risk of injury.
By Luqman Shaikh – Sports Scientist – Founder Prehab 121