4 ways to prevent your Hip or Butt Wink

Aug 16, 2023

In this tutorial we’ll look at what is a butt wink or what is a hip wink then we'll look at why it's a problem. Finally we’ll cover four ways we can prevent it happening if you’re struggling with lower back pain.


What is a butt wink or hip wink?

A hip or butt wink is when the pelvis tucks underneath as you go down into a squat or into hip flexion. It's only a small movement but just tucks under as you get to the lowest part of the movement. We don't want this to happen as it’s a problem when it comes to muscle activation, as well as contributing to lower back pain because it's irritating one specific part of the joint. 


How can you tell if what you’re feeling is a hip wink

A hip wink is actually a very subtle movement that might be confused with your shorts being pulled tight. You can tell if it’s the hip winking by putting your hand across your back. Place your little finger on your pelvis and your thumb on your lower back and the back of your hand in between. As you go down you can start to feel the pelvis tuck under, and if you can feel it happening then there's a good chance there's going to be a hip wink there. You can also see it if you’re watching in a mirror.


Why is a hip or butt wink a problem? 

A hip wink is a problem because it will shut down and deactivate certain muscles, mainly the glutes and lower back muscles. The main problem that can cause lower back pain is the impact on the S1 L5 segment. For reference, S1 is a part of the pelvis L5 is a part of the lumbar spine. That’s where the spine starts to flex because of the hips tucking under. And the more you repeat that movement, the more it exacerbates the problem. In fact, the repeated movement will start to delaminate the disc, allowing the fluid on the inside to start to migrate its way through the disc.

This obviously doesn’t happen after just one hip wink, it will take many, many repetitions. So it'll feel fine for a very long time and then all of a sudden, once the fluid has migrated to a certain point, it will create a bulge in the disc, irritating the nerve and causing pain. 


Preventing butt and hip winks from happening

There are four ways we can prevent hip winks:


  • Not to squat so low


The most simple solution is to make sure you sink down so far into the squat. This can be easily achieved when you’re using weights in the exercise. Essentially if you lift the weight up higher, you will automatically not sink as far. Use the mirror to check what you’re doing, or video yourself on your smartphone and take a look at it. 


  • Go into either a front squat or a goblet squat 


This type of squat will shift the centre of gravity forwards which allows you to go a little bit deeper into the squat but also keep the torso upright. A goblet squat is essentially holding a weight in front of you and then squatting down. What you should notice is that as you squat, your body will stay a little bit more upright. Having the weight in front of you reduces the flexion of the hip ever-so slightly which allows you to go down that much further.


  • Externally rotate at the hips 


You can do this with any type of squat. This might look like putting your toes out a tiny bit. But not too far, otherwise you’ll deactivate your glutes. So just slightly point the toes out and then as you go into the squat position push your knees to the outside of your feet. 

The idea of this external rotation is to make the distance from your hip to your knee shorter. And this allows your centre of gravity to stay more underneath you, keeping you more upright and preventing the hip wink from happening. 

I explain this in more detail in the video tutorial above, so take a look and if you have any questions drop them in the comments over on YouTube.  


  • Improve the range of movement in the ankle


By improving the ankle's range of movement you’ll be able to improve balance and keep your centre of gravity underneath. This means you won’t have to counterbalance by dropping the body forward and increasing the hip hinge, which will cause the hip wink to happen. 

A simple way to improve the range of ankle movement is increasing dorsiflexion. Dorsiflexion is where your knee goes towards your toe. I demonstrate one very simple exercise for that in the video, but really any stretch where you’re getting forward on the ankle and then pulsing in and out will start to improve things. 

If you’re looking for support to help you rehabilitate your lower back or resolve pain, take a look at my How to overcome lower back pain programme online or book a face-to-face consultation and assessment. Let’s get you a rehab plan and get you on the road to recovery!

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