3 Common Faults and How to Fix Them

Butt Wink; Side Shifting; Forward Fold

The squat is a fundamental movement pattern that everyone should do.  If ANYONE (yes, this includes doctors) has ever told you to stop squatting for good, they are making whatever problem you had worse.  To be fair, maybe you should stop squatting the way you squat, especially if you see one of these 3 major movement faults: butt wink, side shift, or forward fold.

This subject matter applies to everyday movement, but for the sake of condensing the subject, let’s talk about the “exercise” squat.  These faults are often subtle and are ingrained into the movement pattern, so it helps to have a spotter watch for these 3 faults as you may not feel them.  Whether we talk about front squat, back squat, goblet squat, box squat, etc., here is how I’d go about fixing your squat pattern.

Butt Wink

This is seen at the bottom of a squat as the lumbar spine flexes and the pelvis tilts posterior.  This default from neutral alignment not only decreases your strength/power potential, but it also puts the low back at risk of disc injuries. One potential cause is a lack of hip flexion, but most often it's a learned motor strategy from lazy training. This means, you can loosen up the hips, but if you don’t “re-program” a better movement strategy, no amount of mobilization will help. 

The Fix: I’d practice this routine on days you aren’t squatting in the gym. Then on days you squat, implement this movement practice into the squat exercise.

o   Tactical frog – unloaded rocking helps teach where your “breaking point” is during hip flexion. 

o   Active hip flexion – In a squat you should be actively pulling yourself down.  Passive hip flexion therefore is much less important than active. Increase active hip flexion = increase squat depth.

        o   Slow eccentric squats – Lightly load this pattern to hit “save" on a new and improved movement document.

Side Shifting

At the bottom of a squat, if you see your torso shift over to your “strong side”, you know there are strength imbalances which need to be addressed. This is best done with split squats with the rear foot elevated on a surface behind you, like a bench or plyo box.  You’ll immediately notice one side feeling more awkward or weak, so your goal is to work the split squat as your major squat variation until your strength becomes more symmetrical.

The Fix: Rear Foot Elevated Split Squats: Use this as your go to squat variation until you begin to feel more symmetrical. 

Forward Fold

This is can be both a strength and timing issue which can usually be fixed with some simple cues.  Again, important to this topic, when there is a faulty movement pattern that is trained day in and day out, the brain will choose this as its strategy to accomplish the task.  Squatting on machines that have guided rails can also promote this pattern due to the decreased stability demands for those machines.  Also, there is no better anti-flexion core drill than deadlifts, so the quick fix here would be pull some heavy weight properly (The hex-bar is a good entry point for inexperienced deadlifters) to build that torso strength.

 The Fix: 3 Cues to keep in mind.

1)      Have proper load, don’t be a hero.  Set up an environment where you can succeed with proper weight.

2)      As you get under the bar, set the rib cage over the pelvis and get the lats tight.

3)      Pull yourself into the squat (don’t think about it was resisting gravity on the way down) and keep that tension throughout the squat.  Often times people try to create that tension in the bottom of the squat before they push up.

With all of that said, EGO is usually the thing that causes the most injuries... and that’s on you.  You can always do more reps with crappy form, but there are no participation ribbons for blowing your back out so what’s the point! Save yourself for the competitions, train smart.

Move well.  Pick up heavy things.  Be happy.  Let me know if you have any questions!

For more information on treatment or online coaching for sustainable exercise and pain relief, visit www.ChiroStrength.com or call the office 931-321-1414 to schedule your FREE consultation with Dr. Dunaway.