butt wink during squat

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nyet07

Level 2 Valued Member
Hello Everyone,

I've long been doing pistol squats, and airborne lunges until I recently saw the Goblet squat in Simple & Sinister which stretches pelvic muscles and hip flexors. I also know squatting close to a wall to make sure torso and knees don't bend forward and keeping proper squat stance. I can squat all the way down to the floor without touching to wall.

The problem I realized is that I have "butt wink" and interestingly it starts in the early phases of squatting. When my legs are nearly parallel to the floor, I can see that my spine starts to bend. If my upper legs go pass below parallel, bent spine is unavoidable. Only way I am able to correct bent spine is to extend my knees further front but then I lose proper squat stance as if it should be squatting towards a wall.

Any ideas? Do you think deadlifts would correct this problem? I think it is due to the fact that my lower back is weak compared to my anterior muscles. I have strong core but can't say the same thing for my lower back.
 

Kettlebelephant

Level 6 Valued Member
What do you mean with "extend my knees further front"?
If you mean that you don't allow your knees to travel in front of your toes, than that's unneccessary. As long as you have enough dorsiflexion to keep your heels planted and your knees don't cave in during the movement you're fine.


Edit:
Don't bother with butt wink in the pistol. I doubt there's anyone who can perform deep pistols without butt winking.
To my understanding butt winking is not a problem for bodyweight stuff, but becomes one once you load up with external weights like barbells.
 
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Harald Motz

Level 8 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
@nyet07 : first, welcome to the StrongFirst forum.

a huge factor regarding the but wink can be the hip flexors (mainly the psoas muscle, which ends are attached on the inner thigh and lumbar spine). You have to learn the skill, when going down into the squat, to actively pull yourself down controled. There are some useful drills, to activate the hip flexors, and teach your mind-body connection how to pull yourself down into the squat.
The best one goes like this, all you need is a partner, who provides you resistance:

you lay yourself with your back down on the floor. Place your hands in your lower spine, to assure a normal lumbar curve. straighten your legs, and place your feet on the knees of your partner, who stays in front of you, with your feet as wide apart, as your squat stance is. Dorsiflex your feet, meaning pull your toes towards you. Your partner grabs your feet and gives you resistance. Now you pull your knees with dorsiflexed feet towards your chest, without loosing your "squat stance", your head and tailbone staying on the ground. go back and forth with this drill, your partner variying the resistance. You should feel the hip flexors working after some reps.

First, doing this drill, than immediately do the skill. Go to a wall, and replicate the sensations you felt, through pulling yourself down into the hole with the hip flexor muscles. Repeat it for some times. It will make a difference.

Another option, I got from @Pavel Macek you can do without a partner, would be, to put one dorsiflexed foot through a light kettlebell ( 8kg or 12kg are plenty), and pull the the knee towards your chest, doing some reps. hold yourself to something to not loose balance. You will feel the hip flexors working. Change foot. Then immediately do the skill. The partner drill is better, but this is a good option, too.

This is only but one (important) thing to consider.
 

Kettlebelephant

Level 6 Valued Member
@HUNTER1313
it's when you sink deeper into the squat and at some point you're butt kind of tucks under your body. I think pics are better to describe this:

Your lumber spine straightens and therefore your discs in that area get stretched in the back and compressed in the front, which will most likely result in herniation some time down the road.
 

Harry Westgate

Level 6 Valued Member
Butt wink for me has been a long fought battle which, while tedious, needs to be won. The bulk of my squat training is pistols anyway which obviously doesn't help matters when I attempt two-legged squats, but one thing that has definitely helped me in the two-legged movement is giving goblet squats the attention they deserve, with the emphasis being on prying - read and re-read the section on goblet squats in S&S, and actually take the time to not only groove the squat perfectly, but actually take the time to pry properly. Rock side to side, curl the bell, 'make space in the squat' with your thighs. Your hips will feel awesome, and that's without even necessarily going rock bottom, and FWIW I'm not quite at rock bottom with my goblet squats yet, but I'm fairly deep; perhaps halfway between parallel and rock bottom. I definitely feel it's worth it though. Just stick with it.
 

Kyle Schuant

Level 1 Valued Member
The wall drill is not useful. Pistol squats are fun, but are not a way to improve your regular squat, as had been shown by your difficulties here.

In a goblet squat, hold a weight to your chest. As a male, you'd have a stance slightly wider than shoulder-width. Turn the feet slightly outwards. Think "chest up", and take a deep breath in. Initiate the squat by shoving your knees OUT - not forward, out. Keep shoving them out all the way down. Go down until the crease of your hip is just below the level of your knee - that's deep enough, Use your elbows to physically shove your knees out. At this point you should feel an uncomfortable tension in your hamstrings. Now rise while still shoving your knees out.

You'll be fine. Don't overthink it.
 

rickyw

Level 6 Valued Member
Barring problems at the ankle, IMO the adductor magnus can contribute a lot to "butt winking", because with deep squats you are both flexing the hips and abducting them at the same time (Adductor magnus has fibers which contribute to both hip adduction and extension, so it opposes the deep squat motion in multiple planes). The hamstrings are shortening at the knee at the same time that they are lengthening at the hip and therefore do not get the same stretch. Adductor magnus only crosses the hip joint and certain parts of it are lengthened through all three planes of motion during a deep squat, moreso when you push your knees out with your elbows.

Another way to stretch adductor magnus is to put your foot up on a table beside you so your knee is out laterally beside you as much as possible and then hinge through the hips (you'll want to flex your spine, keep it straight) and reach for your opposite foot on the floor. That's a great stretch to combine with a goblet squat.

Pulling into the squat with the hip flexors reciprocally inhibits the hip extensors somewhat, which is why Harald recommended it.
 

Kyle Schuant

Level 1 Valued Member
If the adductor magnus "opposed" the deep squat motion because of its contribution to hip adduction and extension, then we would find that the "butt-winking" people's knees would spontaneously zip out (ie hips adduct) during the ascent, and in fact we typically find the reverse. So it ain't that.

What is happening is one or bothof two things. Firstly and most commonly,. the stance is narrow and the toes pointed forwards, so that as the person descends the structures of their thigh impact on the inferior ilium, and thus to descend further they must go into posterior pelvic tilt; in english, the thigh smashes into the pelvis and tilts it back, and the lower back is carried along with it. This is dealt with by widening the stance, since after all the pelvis opens up at the sides.

Secondly what happens is that even without bony bits bashing on each-other, the lower back muscles and the hamstrings are in a battle for control of the pelvis. Will they, without taking the trouble to actually contract exerting force, be able to pull the pelvis their way? This is a battle the squatter must make their lower back muscles win. Thus the cue "chest up!" (ie lumbar and thoracic spine extension) and "deep breath in!" (valsalva - you can't bend your lower back while holding a big breath in).

Your hip flexors will not reciprocally inhibit your hip extensors, nor would you want them to, since then you would be unable to extend your hips, and get stuck at the bottom of the squat, which would be embarrassing with 100kg on your back.

I went to some dance lessons. I was terrible. This was not because of muscle imbalances or movement dysfunctions with satisfyingly latin names - I had just never danced properly before. Our OP has never squatted properly before, nor had any instruction. It's the same thing, except that squatting is much simpler.

In the coaching community there is an unfortunate tendency to confuse the coach's inability to coach a movement with the lifter's inability to perform it. And a newbie will by definition be an incompetent coach. Absent recent injury, our OP can squat properly, he just doesn't know how yet. It may be hard or easy for him because of his particular build and strength and weaknesses and tightnesses and so on, but he can squat.
 
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rickyw

Level 6 Valued Member
If the adductor magnus "opposed" the deep squat motion because of its contribution to hip adduction and extension, then we would find that the "butt-winking" people's knees would spontaneously zip out (ie hips adduct) during the ascent, and in fact we typically find the reverse. So it ain't that.

Hip aDDuction means the thigh is drawn towards the midline.
Hip aBduction means it is drawn laterally away from the midline.
A tight adductor magnus will prevent the hip from zipping out (aBduction) because it aDDucts the hip. It will prevent hip flexion, aBduction, and external rotation of the hip.

For the femur to clear the rim of the acetabulum in a deep squat, as you know, people must aBduct, and externally rotate the hip, precisely the movement a tight adductor magnus resists, and precisely the motion caused by shoving your elbows into your knees in a prying goblet squat.

Your hip flexors will not reciprocally inhibit your hip extensors, nor would you want them to, since then you would be unable to extend your hips, and get stuck at the bottom of the squat, which would be embarrassing with 100kg on your back.

I went to some dance lessons. I was terrible. This was not because of muscle imbalances or movement dysfunctions with satisfyingly latin names - I had just never danced properly before. Our OP has never squatted properly before, nor had any instruction. It's the same thing, except that squatting is much simpler.

Reciprocal inhibition does not mean a muscle is not working, though the terms "switched off", etc, sometimes are used somewhat inappropriately. It merely means that when you flex the elbow by shortening the bicep, the tricep must lengthen in order to accommodate elbow flexion. The tricep can still be contracted while it lengthens. The same goes for a squat. The hip extensors aren't lax by you trying to pull yourself into it, it just helps to facilitate better motion through a neurological reflex.
 
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Abdul-Rasheed

Level 6 Valued Member
Naive question. What exactly is the problem associated with butt wink? I know it is bad, and to be avoided. Is it, that it would eventually result in back injury?
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
Naive question. What exactly is the problem associated with butt wink? I know it is bad, and to be avoided. Is it, that it would eventually result in back injury?
Lower back rounding that starts as depth approaches parallel.

When I have the time, I will post a video.
That would be great. If you haven't done it before, upload a video to YouTube or similar then include a link to it in your post.

-S-
 

TravisDirks

Level 3 Valued Member
Is it, that it would eventually result in back injury?

Yes. As Stew McGill puts it, the spine is built for low to no power. That is it is very flexible and movable with low to no load, but should be immobile under load. He says that moving the spine with a heavy load causes the layers that make up the disks between vertebrae to delaminate (come apart) weakening the disk and eventually leading to rupture.
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
I ask for a video because there are multiple reasons for butt wink, and some are relatively easy form fixes while others require improvements in flexibility, strength, or both.

-S-
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
I think pics are better to describe this:
Yes. But everyone should look carefully at those top two pictures. The thigh angle doesn't change between them - she just rounds her back in the second one. She needs to learn to squat deeper by getting her hips lower and her hips will also have to come forward more. The same is true of the bottom two sketches.

Let's also note that an exaggerated inward lumbar spine curve at the start of a squat is neither necessary nor desirable. One should start with a neutral spine and strive to maintain that position.

-S-
 

Kyle Schuant

Level 1 Valued Member
Woops, mixed up adduction and abduction. This is why I usually try to speak only english.

Point remains: people like to blame imbalances when they don't know how to coach or perform (for the self-coached) the movement. When really they just need to learn to do it.
 

nyet07

Level 2 Valued Member
@nyet07 : first, welcome to the StrongFirst forum.

a huge factor regarding the but wink can be the hip flexors (mainly the psoas muscle, which ends are attached on the inner thigh and lumbar spine). You have to learn the skill, when going down into the squat, to actively pull yourself down controled. There are some useful drills, to activate the hip flexors, and teach your mind-body connection how to pull yourself down into the squat.
The best one goes like this, all you need is a partner, who provides you resistance:

you lay yourself with your back down on the floor. Place your hands in your lower spine, to assure a normal lumbar curve. straighten your legs, and place your feet on the knees of your partner, who stays in front of you, with your feet as wide apart, as your squat stance is. Dorsiflex your feet, meaning pull your toes towards you. Your partner grabs your feet and gives you resistance. Now you pull your knees with dorsiflexed feet towards your chest, without loosing your "squat stance", your head and tailbone staying on the ground. go back and forth with this drill, your partner variying the resistance. You should feel the hip flexors working after some reps.

First, doing this drill, than immediately do the skill. Go to a wall, and replicate the sensations you felt, through pulling yourself down into the hole with the hip flexor muscles. Repeat it for some times. It will make a difference.

Another option, I got from @Pavel Macek you can do without a partner, would be, to put one dorsiflexed foot through a light kettlebell ( 8kg or 12kg are plenty), and pull the the knee towards your chest, doing some reps. hold yourself to something to not loose balance. You will feel the hip flexors working. Change foot. Then immediately do the skill. The partner drill is better, but this is a good option, too.

This is only but one (important) thing to consider.

There is one thing I'd like to point out, I've done quite a few hanging legs raises in the past and as far as I know, hip flexors are the main muscle group for one to accomplish that drill. In addition, to bend at the hip during pistol squats and airborne lunges without hurting the knees, one needs to actively use his hip flexors.

So I cannot really relate hip flexors being the problem in my case. If you said hip flexors are tight, and that's why you've got butt wink then I would agree with you. But the exercises you've mentioned seems like it activates hip flexors.
 

nyet07

Level 2 Valued Member
Barring problems at the ankle, IMO the adductor magnus can contribute a lot to "butt winking", because with deep squats you are both flexing the hips and abducting them at the same time (Adductor magnus has fibers which contribute to both hip adduction and extension, so it opposes the deep squat motion in multiple planes). The hamstrings are shortening at the knee at the same time that they are lengthening at the hip and therefore do not get the same stretch. Adductor magnus only crosses the hip joint and certain parts of it are lengthened through all three planes of motion during a deep squat, moreso when you push your knees out with your elbows.

Another way to stretch adductor magnus is to put your foot up on a table beside you so your knee is out laterally beside you as much as possible and then hinge through the hips (you'll want to flex your spine, keep it straight) and reach for your opposite foot on the floor. That's a great stretch to combine with a goblet squat.

Pulling into the squat with the hip flexors reciprocally inhibits the hip extensors somewhat, which is why Harald recommended it.

To be honest adductor magnus sounds reasonable, most of my leg muscles are adductor magnus and they are quite tight.
 
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