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...

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

Exercise DemonstrationInjury PreventionLower BackOlympic Lifting Accessory WorkScreening and AssessmentsquatTechniqueUncategorizedvideos
12 Comments on this post.
  • Push Press 101: Why Does Push Press Hurt My Lower Back? Part 2 | FITNESS PAIN FREE
    11 February 2013 at 10:26
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    […] it is guys.  When we think about low back pain the first thing that usually comes to mind is the lower back rounding during deadlifts and squats.  Hopefully this opened your mind to other causes of back pain that we should be aware of at the […]

  • Why Do My Hips Hurt When I Squat? Femoral Acetabular Impingement: Part 2 | FITNESS PAIN FREE
    9 March 2013 at 10:26
    Leave a Reply

    […] to get deeper into a squat by rounding the lower back.   This can lead to what has been termed “butt tucking” or “butt wink” during the squat.  Now you’ve got hip and lower back pain.  So on top of getting your hips […]

  • Shannon
    13 April 2014 at 10:26
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    Hey Dan!

    The improvement is awesome. Do you remember the specific cues you gave him to fix his butt wink?


    • djpope
      20 April 2014 at 10:26
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      Hey Shannon, I think I just showed him the video. My cues are usually to push the knees out and squeeze the chest up.

  • Finding the Best Squat Stance for Performance, Hip and Lower Back Health
    6 May 2014 at 10:26
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    […] goes into much greater detail in one of his prior posts on FAI. These same biomechanics also cause butt winking where there is a reversal of the lumbar spine causing a loss of segmental control.  This spinal […]

  • Lalit
    25 January 2015 at 10:26
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    Thanks for the video comparo, i guess i am doing the same mistake as i am having lot of pain in lower back.

  • Paul
    24 December 2015 at 10:26
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    The title of this article is misleading. I already know butt winking is causing my lower back pain, I want to know how to bloody fix it!!

  • Bruno Treves, Health, Fitness, And Wellness
    3 April 2016 at 10:26
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    There are various physical exercises and they guarantee success at making the lower back feel better. It’s just that one should ensure that he executes perfect technique so he won’t destroy his lower back. Perhaps, the best thing to do is to hire a personal trainer for best results. And one can try foundation training and yoga as well.

  • Laurinda
    18 May 2016 at 10:26
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    Do you think anyone should avoid Squatting when suffering from a little back pain? Or if they can continue with back pain relief therapy and exercise?

    • djpope
      29 May 2016 at 10:26
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      There are definitely some people who I will take away squatting for a bit while things calm down.

    Leave a Reply