What is butt wink and how to stop it

Butt wink

What is butt wink then? I imagine the images it conjures up in your mind aren't particularly pleasant. Before I learnt about what butt wink actually is, if someone had come up to me in a gym saying I had a 'butt wink' problem I would have assumed they were politely trying to tell me I'd soiled myself.

Luckily, butt wink ain't that. Instead, butt wink is a flaw in your squat movement. It's the point where you squat low enough that your butt then proceeds to roll under your hips. If I was being picky then I'd describe it as more of a butt nod, or perhaps a butt tip-of-the-hat, as there's not really a wink to be seen. But hey, butt wink is what it's been termed so butt wink is what we shall stick with.

This all comes down to flexibility. Yeah, that thing that you never want to do at the gym because, well, weights. Sadly, flexibility and injury prevention exercises go very overlooked, and the result can be quite detrimental. Speak to anyone who's ever torn a rotator cuff from total neglect of strengthening it up for injury prevention purposes, and they will beg you to do some work to correct imbalances and issues in your body.

What causes butt wink?

The chief cause of butt wink is nice and simple to understand, thankfully. It all comes down to hamstrings. Yep, hamstrings again. They crop up time and time again when it comes to flexibility, and can affect any lower body exercise going, from deadlifts and squats, to running and cycling. There's no reason not to be giving your hamstrings some love here and there, as it will benefit you in so many ways.

Most hamstring issues are caused by sitting for prolonged periods of time. We tend to sit back into a chair, with our knees bent, meaning our hamstrings can happily relax and, over time, get shorter.

Should I really worry about butt wink?

Yes and no. It's a minor issue initially, and won't cause you a lot of grief, until you start getting serious about your squats. As you work up and up the weights, there's going to come a point when your back is going to suffer if you don't remedy your winky butt. It's better to start now, and avoid getting into trouble at a later point.

How to prevent butt wink

This is nice and simple, thankfully. It's good ol' stretches. As mentioned, sitting all day causes our hamstrings to shorten, and that in turn causes butt wink. Everyone's done that simple stretch where you stand up, and bend down to touch your toes, right? Well, that's the trick, except make sure you're doing it right.

The left shot is a typically static hamstring stretch done wrong. I'm folding forward, with little effort to keep the top of the hamstring (the butt) in a stable position. On the right, the butt goes out first to ensure tension at the top of the hamstring is maximised.

The left shot is a typically static hamstring stretch done wrong. I'm folding forward, with little effort to keep the top of the hamstring (the butt) in a stable position. On the right, the butt goes out first to ensure tension at the top of the hamstring is maximised.

To do it correctly you need to ensure you're starting by standing up tall. Instead of folding forward and touching your toes, focus on pushing your butt out. As you do so, allow your upper body to shift forward, maintaining a straight back. This ensures you're in an anterior pelvic tilt position. I can almost guarantee that you won't get nearly as far down into the stretch as you normally do before your hamstrings give in. This goes to demonstrate just how short they are. Holding this static stretch for approximately 30 seconds at a time will see you going gradually lower over several weeks into the position. Resist any temptation to cheat, and keep your back straight, but most importantly, keep your butt out - this is what will lengthen the hamstring. Keep practicing, and soon you can say goodbye to the butt wink.

Hamstring stretch video

Rob

Brighton, United Kingdom