How Not to Destroy Your Lower Back While Squatting: Avoiding The Dreaded Butt Tuck Position

To start, I wanted to say that I plugged the words “butt tuck” into google to get some good images to put along with this post and what I ended up getting was not anything related to squatting. Man am I naive.

Anyway, we’ve all heard it, squatting is going to hurt your back.  We get screamed at every day to keep our backs flat at the gym and we understand it well, right?

Well ya, we want the lower back (lumbar spine) in a neutral position during squatting.  It’s important for avoiding flexion based back pain and disc herniations.  Our motion should be coming from the hips.  Here’s a quick refresher.

I’m really picky about my squats though and despite us knowing how important keeping a flat back is, I still see people’s spines rounding at the bottom of the squat all the time.  Here’s what I mean:

Do you see how at the bottom of Brian’s squat his butt tucks a bit underneath of him and his lower back rounds slightly?  It might not seem like much, but Brian has a history of lower back pain and correcting this movement is most likely going to pay dividends in his lower back health. This is referred to as “butt tucking” not to be confused with anal winking (A real medical term)

After showing him the video and going over this check out his squat now:

Better right?  Now all it took for Brian was me showing him a video of himself and giving him some cues on how to correct this.  For other people it could be a number of things:

  • Tight hips
  • Tight ankles (limited Dorsiflexion)
  • Poor lumbar and thoracic spine stability

That’s going to be your job to figure this out, but if you’ve got this issue going on, especially if you have a history of low back pain (flexion intolerant back) it would be smart to fix it fast.

As far as staying healthy goes, technique is vital but having the correct programming is another extremely important part of the equation.  I spend copious amounts of time creating competitive crossfit programming for those who wish to minimize risk of injury and promote longevity.  Learn more about the program by clicking HERE:

Want to learn more about how to assess your athletes with this problem and find the best exercises to correct it?  Check out my product with Dr. Dave Tilley:

Monkey Method – Movement Essentials

The Ultimate Guide to Understanding and Fixing Technical Flaws in the Handstand, Muscle-up and Olympic Lifts

Your back will thank you later,

Dan Pope DPT, CSCS

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