Therapy Thursday-Squatting Part 1

Today we will talk about 2 common questions we get about squatting: "Is butt wink bad?" and "Do I need to keep my toes straight?". This post cover the butt wink and the next post will discuss the "toes straight"-topic some more.


1. Is The Butt Wink Bad For Your Back?

The Butt Wink can be seen at the bottom of a squat when the low back moves into flexion and starts to round. This can put additional pressure on muscles that stabilize the spine and pelvis, and maybe even the low back disks. It is not really possible to have a full deep squat and not have some lumbar flexion, so it’s normal but should not be excessive or present early in the squat. There is no research to support that a flexed lumbar spine actually cuases low back problems. However we do know the spine can handle most load in the neutral range: slight flexed to slight arched.

There are a few possible causes of excessive Butt Wink.

  • Poor Ankle Mobility
  • Poor Technique
  • Poor Core Stability Control
  • Poor Hip Range of Movement

If you have low back pain with squatting, please find someone who can evaluate both your technique and your mobility/tability of the lower body.

Ankle Mobility: You need sufficient dorsiflexion of the ankle to squat deep. Lack of this mobility can cause your low back to have to compensate and round earlier. This is a common problem for people that lift weights, but limited dorsiflexion can also cause knee and hip issues. A lot of us have limited mobility of the ankle and its key to do some exercises to improve your ankle dorsiflexion

Poor Technique: This typically come down to poor posture awareness and lack of core bracing. You need to focus on proper posture during the squat and making sure you engage your core muscles to stabilize your spine. Get a good coach to help you what to look for. Start with minimal weight or a PVC pipe to learn the mechanics before adding those plates

Limited Hip ROM: This is a common problem. You need sufficient flexion of your hips and also enought rotation. You can compensate for this to toe-out your stance and make your stane wider, but still it's vital to have sufficient jip mobility to avoid hip and/or back pain. I see this and the ankle mobility issues the most, I love treating hips, because as we improve hip function, so many other things get easier, better and less painful. If your hip is truly tight, you need some mobilization, but get it evaluated because sometimes the hip might feel tight, but it's actually die to weakness of muscles around the hip that are in spasm.

Bottomline: Some Butt Wink is normal, but should be minimal and should only be present in the deepest part of the squat. We all move differently, so slight movement issues are not important, but excessive deviations might need an evaluation, especially if there is pain. Look for major differences between left and right side as far as strength and mobility to see if there is something that needs some additional attention. You can always email me, or reach out on social media with your questions

Next Week: Toes straight or out during the squat?  

Dr. Pieter de Smidt, PT, DPT

Do You Have Pain? Schedule a Free Assessment | Dr. de Smidt has over 30 years of experience as a Physical Therapist. He has achieved certifications in Mckenzie Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy, Manual Therapy and Sports Therapy. With his Post-Professional Doctorate in PT he specialized in management of musculoskeletal injuries of the neck, back, shoulder, hip and knee.