Are you guilty of the Butt-Wink?

Orginially appeared on: http://www.crossfitnorthscottsdale.com/are-you-guilty-of-a-butt-wink.html

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Image on the right shows the wink and low back rounding

Are you guilty of the Butt-Wink?

Butt-wink is a term (totally scientific) used to describe the posterior rotation of the pelvis during a squat. This happens at different depths during a squat for different people, mainly depending on hamstring length. What causes the butt-wink? Basically what happens during a squat is at some point your hamstrings are stretched as much as possible. At this point a few things can happen. For new squatters, who haven’t had their form adjusted, this includes allowing knees to go way past the toes, heels lifting off the ground and/or rounding of the low back. If you don’t fall into that category, the point at which your lumbar spine reverses its curve is the maximal length of your hamstrings. This is because your hamstrings are being pulled so tight, but you are continuing to lower down into a squat and something else has to move to allow for more depth. That’s when the pelvis rotates posterior and causes your lower back to tuck under. At some point during a squat, everyone has this happen. So I guess technically everyone is guilty of the butt-wink….

The problem is when this occurs too early in the depth of the squat because the hamstrings essentially stop working. Most Olympic lifters don’t have this happen until their butt is close to their ankles, helping them to continue using their hamstrings and lift stronger weights. Below is a combination of information from what I have learned, as well as from K-Starr. I encourage everyone to check out his article  Hamstrung, that he nicely let me share with all of you. It goes into more detail about this topic and also has better images of the butt-wink (because I didn’t want to call anyone out from the gym).

Reasons why butt wink is bad!

  • Reduces your hamstrings ability to produce force because they are on so much stretch, causing…
  • The quads work harder in order to make up for the lack of force. Our bodies are awesome at finding ways to get things done, even if it’s not the more
    efficient way.
  • It also reduces your body’s ability to produce optimal levels of force in others ways by changing mechanical factors such as: causing knees to move past
    feet, lifting heels and rounding back.

How to detect the butt wink?

      Have someone watch you squat and tell them to make you stop when your lumbar curve starts to reverse.
      Check out your hamstring length by doing the test K-Starr recommends in

Hamstrung
* if you know you have tight hamstrings, you probably have early-butt-wink-syndrome. Most of the population has tight hamstrings from sitting all day anyways, so now that hamstring stretching is usually important for everyone.

How to fix the butt wink?
Stretch! I know this term has been way overused, but it’s only because it’s important. Stretching before the workout is not ideal, but if you are really tight it’s not
the worst thing to do. You can always do a brief 3min warm-up, stretch, and then do your main warm-up. The best time to stretch is after the workout, so don’t
just jump in your car and sit after the workout because this will further decrease your hamstring flexibility. You can also stretch throughout the day. Recent literature (article references coming soon) recommends at least 2 min/day/leg total to see improvements, although more is never a bad thing. K-Starr recommends 90 sec holds, 6-7 times per day. Below is a few hamstring stretches to do (check out Hamstrung for images of these):

  1. Straight leg hip flexion with a strap or partner (cuddle stretch!),
  2. Bent knee hip flexion, pulling behind your knee or having cuddle time again
  3. Add contract-relax to the above stretches to improve flexibility even more, pushing your leg down lightly for 7 seconds and then relaxing while pulling your
    leg up until you feel resistance. Repeat this 5-6 times, each time pulling your leg slightly closer to you. This is easier with a partner.

*You can also do 1 and 2 while standing with your foot up on a higher surface, but make sure your are maintaining your lumbar curve. If not, you are focusing
more on your low back and you need to move your foot to a lower surface while keeping your midline stabilized.

Tips:

  • I don’t really find the foam roll to be too affective with the hamstrings because it’s difficult to get enough weight from your leg to make a difference in the tissue (although it may feel good). It’s also good to stretch after foam rolling anyways because once you break-up the muscle adhesions you want to stretch the muscle to increase the length.
  • Standing and reaching for your toes is NOT a good hamstring stretch. This mainly stretches your low back, as well as putting your low back under a lot of stress.
  • The lacrosse ball works better because you can really get into the muscle. Sit on a box large enough so your feet are off the ground, find a tender spot and stay there while alternating flexing and extending your knee. Do this about 20 times and then move on to the next spot. Don’t be shy to get up near your butt bone too! Just be careful because this can be pretty aggressive and make you really sore if you do it too much or too often. You call also roll your leg side to side over the tender area. Good to stretch after too.

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