What Is ‘Butt Wink’ and How Do You Prevent It?
Are you a “butt wink-er”?!
Most people who participate in Crossfit would have heard the term “butt wink” used, but if you have no idea what I am referring to and even if you don’t participate in Crossfit as an exercise regime, you may want to have a quick read to perfect your squats for a super toned behind like Beyoncé’s!
What is a butt wink?
A butt wink is a term used to describe poor body biomechanics and posture of a squatting position; when your pelvis goes into a “posterior pelvic tilt” at the bottom of a squat (See Figure 2).
You may not notice yourself doing this, but if you’re guilty of a butt wink, your pelvis would be rotating backwards, rather than forwards into an anterior pelvic tilt (See Figure 1).
This can occur due to weakness in your core, lower limbs and back extensors (spinal muscles), or you may just not be aware of the correct technique.
So, next time you squat check yourself out side-on in a mirror.
Figure 1 Figure 2
What are the disadvantages of a butt wink?
You may not think it’s such a big deal, but a poor squatting technique like a butt wink with or without a heavy load can actually cause major injuries to your lumbar (lower) spine.
Having a flexed lumbar spine and posterior pelvic tilt at the end of a squat puts too much pressure on your discs and vertebras, which can lead to conditions such as a bulged disc (strain), muscle or facet joint strain where the joins between your vertebrae are damaged.
Such conditions can be debilitating and can cause lower back pain, which can set you back in your fitness levels.
You will also be ineffective in strengthening your glutes, legs and back while doing a butt wink, so your squats will actually be a waste of time in this poor posture.
Effective strengthening requires a perfect technique in starting posture and movement through the squats exercise.
How do you avoid doing the butt wink and improve your squatting technique?
The correct and safe squatting position is either in a neutral or extended lumbar spine with anterior tilt of your pelvis, which doesn’t negatively affect your strength.
Before you start adding weights you first need to practice perfecting your technique.
Here are some tips to keep in mind that can improve you squatting position:
- Look up straight ahead, have your feet slightly more than hip-width apart, keep your knees tracking over the second toes and slightly tuck in your chin to avoid straining your neck
- Keep you back nice and straight without too much arching or hunching
- It’s important to have good foot mechanics (avoid over-pronation, so wear supportive foot wear), enough hip flexion range and ankle dorsiflexion range to prevent lower back from rounding
- Improve your hip flexibility by practicing Goblet or overhead squats with a weight and keep your hips and knees open wide
- Work on your motor control and core, not just your hip flexibility for optimal technique
- Have proper functioning glutes to absorb eccentric loading, extend the hips and allow the knees to track properly over the toes without too much internal rotation of your tibia (shin bone), which puts too much pressure on your knees
- Make sure your quads and hamstrings are stretched and lengthened enough for flexibility
- Have good control of thoracic extensors to keep your torso upright
- Have good control of lumbar erectors to give you adequate lumbo-pelvic stability and prevent a posterior pelvic tilt occurring
- Practice, practice, and practice again to be able to coordinate everything mentioned above and reach your desired fitness outcomes.
Keep working on your coordination, strength and flexibility and try practice squatting at least every second day to avoid poor movement quality resulting in a “butt wink”, which can lead to injuries and prevent you from achieving your fitness goals.
Ilona Serebnitski - Physiotherapist (Clinical Associate), Back In Motion Aspendale Gardens
Ilona graduated from La Trobe University with a Bachelor of Health Science and Masters of Physiotherapy degree. Ilona is fluent in Russian and French. She has a special interest in Clinical Exercise and Women's Health. Ilona loves to lead an active lifestyle and regularly participates in Clinical Exercise, Crossfit and Yoga. Ilona is a very compassionate person and strives to build lifelong relationships with her clients to help them achieve their health and fitness goals.
Picture courtesy of: Cross Fit North Scottsdale