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Exercises Movements, technique & proper execution

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Old 05-11-2007, 04:19 AM   #1
Shane Upchurch
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I've been battling for some weeks maybe months now with the butt wink during squats. I cannot for the life of me get my hips lower than my knees without my butt tucking under. I had irritated a muscle in my lower back on the right side last year and just got done with a PT about two months ago that helped me fix the problem, but whenever I do a lot of squats I can fill it coming back and I know its due to my butt tucking under at the bottom.
Ive messed around with squat therapy, doing as the trainer shows on the video and I still do my stretches the PT gave me to help prevent re-injuring myself, but I still cannot seem to get lower than parallel.
I know success is not achieved over night but are there any other tips or help out there that can help eliminate my problem? I really want to start squating with some weight but I wont until I can get rid of the evil BUTT WINK..
Thanks for any help.
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Old 05-11-2007, 08:13 AM   #2
Kenneth Urakawa
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How's the hamstring flexibility?
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Old 05-11-2007, 08:44 AM   #3
Jason Naubur
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I have been working with my PT on core strength for a while. That along with regular Hamstring stretches have made my squat pretty good.

However, I do sometimes have a small wink at the very bottom, but even the videos of the 'good' squats exhibit some. The 'bad' butt wink video shows a dramatic amount. So I figure that a little is ok.

j
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Old 05-11-2007, 09:22 AM   #4
Wayne Nelson
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CrossFit Low back

That butt wink should be of concern because it indicates full flexion of the lumbar spine. In my past posts (Exercise/Glute Ham) I have attached information on core that will help you to understand how winking leads to disc problems. It is a dysfunction in the ability of the back muscles to activate at that range of motion which causes the winking. It is movement dysfunction and should be avoided.

So, how do we deal with it, that is the question. First of all only squat in the range that you don't wink. That way you will be training in a range of safety, proper function and grooving movement that is correct. Eventually, your range of motion will increase as your ability to do so correctly increases. Hamstring stretching may help, but you have to be careful with this because often hamstring tightness is a compensation for pelvic instability and stretching can upset the apple cart. I don't take this approach but focus on lumbar muscle activation, strengthening and improving endurance.

So, how is this done? With a person who has no current problems, as it sounds like in your case, we begin with back extensions. If you have a roman chair around try this:

1. Face down, feet turned in, supported in the fron at those points (bones) just below your waist.
2. Back board straight, that is place a ruler and contacts should be tail bone, between shoulders and back of your head. This posture will be kept - at all times- throughout the movements.
3. Now you are ready to begin. Drop down to a bent, at your hips (still with a board straight back) position, activate your low back muscles a little, and come back up to the point where your are straight, like standing. Hold it, 5 - 10 seconds, breath during the hold.
4. Return to the down position and come right back up. Absolutely no hanging around down there. This should provide a very short relaxation time for the muscles.
5. Repeat to fatigue.
6. Fatigue (this is important!) is low back pain, can't hold posture, pain somewhere else, excessive shaking, and the last is can't do it.
7. Don't increase the hold times, increase the reps. If you want to put on a bigger hurt, perform two forced exhales that last about 3-4 seconds each.
8. Finally, recognize signs of fatigue and respect them, highly.

If you need pictures let me know.


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Old 05-11-2007, 09:54 AM   #5
Elliot Royce
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Besides the obvious advice which Wayne gave of don't try to go below your natural flexibility (the bar will push you down further each time you do squats so over time the problem will solve itself), I would suggest using a box (or stability ball) and gradually reduce the height of the box (or size of the ball). I did this from a pretty high box down to a lower (though not low) box. For me it prevented the spine rounding because your butt is effectively lifted by the box so there is no arch (it's a cue to stop descending).
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Old 05-13-2007, 08:15 AM   #6
Shane Upchurch
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thanks for all the advice guys. It's frustrating because I want to be able to squat properly and before I felt like if I was not going below parallel I was not doing a full squat. I can get really close to below parallel with no problem so I will take the advice given and hopefully it will sort itself out as my form gets better.
Thanks again.
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Old 05-13-2007, 10:11 AM   #7
Kenneth Urakawa
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Didn't have much time earlier, so an addendum to my question:

Are you able to passively bring your hamstrings into a stretched position (e.g., lying on your back and maintaining your lordotic arch, can a partner move your leg to 90 deg without a pelvic shift?

If the flexibility is there, but not being utilized, take a look at hip flexor activation.
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Old 05-13-2007, 04:10 PM   #8
Matthew Swift
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This is a topic that has been fascinating me for a while now. I have posted previously on it and there is another thread that I need to get back to where we were experimenting with glute triggering to see whether increasing glute flexibility reduced the wink (it didn't!).

As a trainer, I was intrigued as to how the butt wink occurs in individuals that have obviously good hamstring and glute flexibility. Do doubt it occurs where flexibility is poor BUT I also had many clients (as well as myself) where flexibility was well above average but the butt wink was severe.

I am convinced that the problem is poor motor control of the hips during the descent. Flexibility is a factor but more to do with it's contribution to poor pelvis control rather than directly to the pelvis rollunder. Kenneth and Wayne are on the money that it has to do with lumber control and hip flexor activation.

To eliminate the butt wink you need to imagine that you were squatting in zero gravity or that you were upside down. How would you close the angle on the hips if there was no gravity? Strong engagement of the hip flexors!

I think what happens is that just "dropping" into the squat results in the knees remaining fixed in space and towards the bottom of the squat the hip angle doesn't close properly (because the hip flexors are soft) and therefore pelvis has to drift backwards to keep you on balance. When the glutes/hammies then engage towards the bottom of the squat to start the ascent the pelvis is pulled forward the bottom, resulting in the butt wink.

Now when hip flexors engage strongly on the way down (good motor control) the hip angle closes strongly and towards the bottom of the squat the pelvis and knees drift slightly FORWARD to keep you on balance. Consequently the chest is kept UP to conteract the pelvis coming forward and you end up in the nice mature squat positon at the bottom. Because the hip angle is closed and the pelvis is forward (in relative terms) at the bottom of the squat, it is then stable and does not move when the glutes activate at the bottom, therefore no butt wink.

To demonstrate this I have posted a video of my squat. I can make the butt wink happen by relaxing hip flexors on the way down and allowing my pelvis to drift back, or I can eliminate the butt wink by strongly engaging hip flexors and allowing my hips to drift forwards. The important thing to note is that my flexibility has remained constant during this vid. It was shot in one take. In one of the squats I overdid the hip activation and rolled forward onto my toes which shows what happens if you overcook it.

Work/Family safe link ...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QylNkkWBJUE

When I get a chance I will re shoot this vid properly with better coaching cues.
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Old 05-14-2007, 05:36 AM   #9
Peter Terry Haas
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You can try this, it has worked successfully for myself and others. This mainly addresses flexibility issues.

Determine the point at which your low back rounds out. If you aren't sure, get somebody to place their palm in your low back as you go down slowly and you should be able to feel the exact depth at which you "wink". Now, use your hip flexors to slowly start pulling yourself down into a PERFECT squat. Stay nice and tight and maintain perfect form. Go to the point right before you start to break down and hold there for 5-10s. Let gravity pull you down deeper into the bottom position. 1 millimeter counts as progress. MAINTAIN TENSION THE ENTIRE TIME. Repeat a couple of times. This should help you to stretch as well as reinforcing kinesthetic awareness.

Hope this helps.
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Old 05-16-2007, 08:19 PM   #10
Brett Tom
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After seeing that vid, I struggled with the same thing. I've found that by stretching my hamstrings a few times a day, gtg, I'm now able to go past parallel while maintaining arch in my lower back...not as much if I were standing up straight, but some.

Try this, stand with your feet about shoulder width apart, with a slight break in the knee. Then bend over maintaining as much lower back arch as you can, as far over as you can. Also, think about driving the top of your pelvis into the top of your thigh. I read somewhere that breaking the knee while doing ham stretches allows the "belly" of the hamstring to stretch better. I've found this to be true. Ultimately, you're trying to allow your femur to pelvis angle to close up more tightly while maintaining lower back arch.

Consequently, I can now maintain an arch in deep squats, and my L sits have also improved due to the increased hamstring flexibility.
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