A few weeks ago, a fellow gym bunny and I were squatting and she said to me ‘how do you do that flicky thing with your bum’. I wasn’t too sure what she meant and assumed she meant at the top of the squat so just advised her to squeeze her glutes to finish the movement.
On one of the first completely solo gym sessions in a while I decided to take things back to basics, re-assess my technique and make sure form was consistent and correct. The results baffled me! It was all going well right up until it clicked with me what my friend meant by ‘the flicky thing with your bum’. Squat form was on point right up until it got deep and the ‘flicky thing’ with my bum happend. Rounding of the lower back (lumbar flexion) and the butt tucking under (posterior pelvic tilt), yeah you know what this is – the dreaded BUTTWINK!!!! Where did this come from? Is it something I have always had? Is it something I have developed? ARGH?! So right there and then, squatting ceased, personal research and chats with my trainer began.
Apparently there are a number reasons in which posterior pelvic tilt AKA buttwink can occur. It seems that the main causes are:
- Poor technique;
Squatting is a full body movement. It is important to understand and respect this. In order for a squat to be conducted correctly the barbell must be balanced over mid-foot, move in a straight vertical path and the crease of the hips should be below the top of the knee cap. In order to execute this, before commencing the exercise one must get into the correct stance for their desired squat, ensure central point of balance is in the middle of the foot not the balls of the foot or the heels, brace the abdominals and focus on breathing technique. All of the previous must be maintained and controlled throughout the entire movement. If even one element is off the entire exercise is compromised. This is evidenced through loss of balance, raising onto toes, moving knees to far forward, dipping of the upper body and of course the dreaded buttwink.
- Depth of the squat and anatomical structure;
Flexibility is a factor of the squat movement that often gets overlooked. Where muscles are too tight to correctly perform a movement, the body will make alterations in order to perform and this is where injury can occur. For example, if hamstrings are tight, buttwink may occur due to the re-orientation of the pelvis and as a consequence to the way in which the pelvis and the lumbar spine are connected therefore, there is an increased risk of injury i.e. slipped disks or pinched nerves.
From a skeletal standpoint, bone to bone compression may happen before the desired depth is reached. Limitation due to the poisitioning of the hip bone will be the case for people who have deep set sockets additionally, the shaping of the socket (eliptical, flat or linear) will also play a huge part in squat style and technique. As above, the pelvis will tilt to allow the hip bone to be in a position to complete the movement. Bone structure will not result in the exclusion of the exercise from workouts entirely, but will require them to be tailored to suit individaul needs i.e. narrow or wide stance and depth. It is vital to only squat to a depth which does not compromise the lumbar health.
After running multiple different tests, taking countless videos of myself and stretching in ways I’ve never stretched before the conclusions are indicative that I have deep set sockets with a linear shaping. Taking this into account, I will benefit most from a wide stance squat.
Technique should constantly be analysed. Our bodies change considerable amounts, particularly as muscles increase as they also get tighter (where flexibility training is not incorporated) this will result in alterations in motor control and the way the body moves. Spotting the changes earlier and adapting movements appropriately will definitely aid in reducing risk of injury, and if that alone isnt enough ensuring the body is working optimally will mean you aren’t leaving any potential GAINZ on the table!