E59 | Keep It Real Talk #8: Squatting with Heel Lifts & Butt Winking
On today's episode, Greg, Doug and Trevor #KeepItReal while talking squatting with heel lifts & butt winking. Links of interest:
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Episode Transcription: I want to ask for your interest. We'd like to open up, keep it real episodes up to you, the listener, and have discussions on topics driven by the content of this podcast and our social media. If you're interested, we'd love to hear. So by dropping us a message on our Instagram, our handle is resilientppt. R E S I L I E N T P P T. Thanks. Welcome to the resilient performance podcast. This is keep it real talk number eight. We're going to be talking about, uh, but winks with squatting, elevating the heels with squatting as our main topic this week. Um, and we'll. Open it up for questions. If we have any, any at the end, I'm Greg Spatz, we have Trevor Rappa here. We have Doug . Um, I believe this topic was sent in by, uh, Gerard Freedman. So awesome. Thanks for sending that in Gerard and, uh, uh, let's get started. What do you guys got? How do we even start with that broad, broad topic, but, um, go for it. Yeah, I mean, the button working with squatting comes up a lot. Um, and it's one of those things that it becomes like a hysterical conversation. Like you should never butt wink or, um, you know, but waiting is okay. And it's kind of the same debate, you know, it's like the whole like movement optimality versus movement relativism. I think that with any of this stuff, it always like avoid the extremes. Um, if you study squatting and it has been studied biomechanically in a lab, like no matter what your eye sees, when you get to a certain depth in the squat, a posterior pelvic tilt occurs. Which we can call butt winking and it's unavoidable. But I think in real life, most coaches, therapists have an idea of what they want to move into to look like. And if there's too much, but waking up, I mean, we could talk about what that is. And I think it's, maybe this isn't the best forum for work. It's more about like, if we were to watch videos of people squatting, intuitively, we would say, okay, like that's, that's not, that's not bad. Or, you know, that's too much. Um, I think, you know, most coaches and therapists are using kind of the, I test, they have an idea of what they want a movement to look like. And when it comes to squatting, I mean, even the quote unquote, best squatters like they bought, like is going to occur even in some cases invisible, but wink. But I think that, you know, and correct me if you guys have a different opinion, I think we would say that we don't want to see a ton of spinal movement under load where like, somebody let's say starts out where they're visibly, massively extended, you know, when they unrack the bar and then they descend to whatever depth they get to. And there's like this just crazy reversal, like an accordion. Um, so we we're okay with some posterior tilt or button winking. Again, it comes down to the eye test. I mean, I think that are like the videos that we post on YouTube and on Instagram are kind of a little bit more revealing as to. What we consider a quote unquote good squat. Is it in the context of the, the Healist you're seeing that a lot more. I think it's for the most part, a good thing, because if people have an idea of what they want a squat to look like and put using that heel lift, it's like with a wedge or lifting shoes. Um, reduces that, that spinal reversal to what the coach or therapist needs acceptable, then it's good. But with anything else, there's, there's trade offs. So we know that, you know, the, the, um, using a heel lift or a shoe, it's going to kind of buy somebody, some doors flexing, then they might not have, which isn't, it's certainly a bad thing. As long as if the athletes need yeah. Needs dorsiflexion. You're doing other things to address it. If you're saying, look, we want to use the squad, but this is a great way to load the legs. You still, if you deem Dorsey flection important, you have to address it other ways, if not via loaded, squatting, and then anytime that you alter mechanics or altering where the stress goes. So we know that if we use a wedge or shoe, we're basically moving the center of gravity forward. And you know, most people, if they have an issue with squatting, like even somebody who might have good Dorsey flection, they might have poor hip flection. So when they go to the bottom of a squat, they're eventually going to fall backwards. If they don't have a counterweight. So having that heel lift or the wedge brings the center of gravity forward so that when they get to depth, they don't feel like they're going to fall backwards. That's not a bad thing necessarily, but again, now you're shifting the stress anteriorly, which is going to load the knee and the quads more, which is not a bad thing, as long as that's either your intent or you're aware that that is the, that's the consequence of what you're doing, because everything has, you know, a primary consequences, a secondary or unintended consequence. And if your goal is to get a squat to, to look good, And most people do squat better in a lifting shoe or the heel wedge by that I test you have to be okay with the fact that now you're going to load the knee more. And in some cases, especially in rehab, that might be the goal. But, um, as long as you know, that that is a possibility, then it's not a problem. Yeah. I think, I think hit the nail on the head dog there. I think that was awesome. I think, uh, I don't think I would add and just is always having that intense, like, but when that will be okay saying is going to be yeah. Between a loaded squat or kind of a more restful position, like the Kahnawake squat that we do with so many people to kind of help them restore deeper ranges of hip flection and help their back, essentially relax. So like I said, having intense and knowing what are we trying to look for and what, what. What is our purpose of, of programming or choosing this type of movement pattern, um, determines how much of these things were kind of relatively okay. Seeing like, you know, I don't want somebody to, like I said, and then according to movement with load, because there's just way too much stress going through the spine, but if have somebody with five homes. Tom waits in their hands and the counterweight squad, just to help them get flection, you know, systemic flection than something without dental care. So just always understanding that there is this it's never right or wrong or good or bad, there's just relative degrees. Yeah. As you move along the continuum from something that's more rehab centric and positional focus versus more on the performance output. End of things, that you know what we're going to see with that same wound pattern of a squat changes as we're moving along the continuum of the same movement pattern. Yeah. I think that research that you spoke about early on Doug, I think I remember you saying that even just the act of putting a weight onto your body causes a little bit of a butt wink like reflexively. So of course, we're talking about the bottom where there's like this massive change in your pelvic alignment. We're not looking for that, but there is some sort of amount that we almost do want relative to know, like where is their home or their neutral is what we'll talk about. Um, and, uh, I mean, if you, if you don't have, if you go from that extended position in the low back and you don't have any sort of change in that, when you put load on yourself, You're probably going to be like less stable. When you do get lower in the squat to begin with, you're going to be less pressurized. We talk about in our course, we talk about the soda can analogy. If you don't open it, it's going to be pressurized. It would be more stable. You can put, you know, you'd stand on it and it won't, it won't crumble. Um, so then I feel like this conversation almost goes back to like, what is the course of it to be doing? Like, what is the core? Or like, and it's all of course going to be contextually. Defined on, like how should the core be acting under loaded movement. And then also another thing to think about too is sometimes as coaches or therapists, we, we imagine that like what we're doing in the weight room might completely change how somebody acts on a field. And as I think as most of us would agree, I don't think that's necessarily only the case. I don't think like a lot of the things we're doing are that powerful. Um, so if you're going to have an athlete, um, in a loaded squat, get to a bottom position and like, let's say they can, they maintain like a large, um, lumbar lordosis and they stopped before they bought wink and they go back up like for their squat, like, okay. That might not be the worst thing in the world. But maybe for their change of direction, that's not something we want. So we might want to work on that in the weight room, but it's also, if we don't. If we allow a little bit of a butt wink, it's also not going to like completely detract from the person's athleticism on the field, um, where they're not all, all of a sudden, they're not going to be able to change direction if, if they're not, you know, flexing their spine a little bit on, under, under a load. So, um, yeah, it varies what our goal is. And I think, like you said, if, if, uh, if the goal is like muscular strength and power and, or like endurance or whatever it is, like, it doesn't really matter what we use as long as we're. Using an exercise that loads the muscles that we're trying to do attack. Cause again, we're not developing the skill, a skill necessarily. We're not going through a lateral change of direction type of thing or, or whatever that they might necessarily need on field. Um, we're going after. A physiological change, um, of how much output they can have under load just goes back to it again, like what's the, but the intense, um, and then, yeah, also going back to like intensity in general, like if we're going to do a one RM back squat, like, I don't think we, I mean, we, we don't really do that, but like if you're going to do it and you're going to, there's a fine line between like, All right. If I'm going to do one RM, like they kind of just have to push the weight and it might not really look the greatest, but you also shouldn't be okay with then like this massive undulation in the spine. So depends on the intensity, I think as well. And then there's that, that gray area of like, all right, we kind of got, just kind of have to grind and push through some, push through some load to meet some goals, but where is that gray area of, you know, too much spinal movement or too much by winking. And then, like you said, if you just elevate the heels in it. Take something away that you might not necessarily like, who cares if it's reaching the, uh, Yup. Achieving the goal that we're looking for. I think there's the boat wing thing is kind of like the discussion we had about the whole nice forward thing a few weeks ago about, you know, it's like something that has kind of become really extreme in terms of how people look at that, you know, that it's this aberrant movement pattern that is going to like. Really hurt somebody when in reality, like we can talk about it. Yeah. Just during a normal squat, putting a bar on just holding a weight, like natural, you kind of get this reflexive movement. So there's certain things that I think naturally occur that. When we don't understand, or maybe it's not there, no assemble. We don't, we don't know that that's kind of a natural part of movement. Then it becomes something that we try to, we spend too much time trying to correct. Instead of letting it occur and letting it become natural for people. So, you know, like the reason we choose an anterior load is because it gets people's. Body to naturally kind of get into a more relatively neutral or mid-range position, right? As it gets them to kind of post your public tilt closes off the front side of the ribcage, helps him push their knees forward while keeping their heels flat. Like it gets kind of gets the movement pattern to be executed without us having to overcome coach. Um, Versus like, you know, if you have somebody with poor, poor hip mobility, poor ankle mobility, you'd give them a back squat for them to achieve depth. They're going to have to butt wink more. And maybe if they're a powerlifter or they're something that has to back squat then yeah. Maybe you're going to have to try to coach them out, better, do something to kind of fix that occurring with that strategy that you're giving them in terms of the back squat versus. Maybe if we just gave them a different loading strategy, we're going to elicit the movement, Pat pattern execution that we're looking for. So I think there's a lot of things from, from an athletic movement standpoint as well, where people don't think that should be happening. So we try to coach people out of it versus naturally letting it happen and letting, letting the movement and the person kind of take care of itself where we just kind of give them the task and let them try to figure it out and their body's going to do what it can to figure out how to execute it as efficiently as they. As possible for, for them and their individual constraints. So I just think that the boat winking and then he's forwarding, especially with squatting is something that people spend a lot of time trying to correct when maybe we shouldn't always be trying to correct that stuff. Or maybe we should just be choosing a different strategy rather than trying to coach them out of what they're currently doing. Yeah. I mean, you need a posterior tilt to get into deep hip flection and basically unintended at your hip and it buys you some more. Range of motion. I think that the line that we would probably draw as even, even in like a squat, that we would do more for mobility and not loading. We want to see kind of more global flection. Like we don't want to see somebody now that we're not worried about them getting hurt. It's more like, what are we trying to train? We're trying to train a certain. Motor pattern. We want to see global flection. And even in like in a relatively unloaded squat, we don't want to see just somebody like go down until they're like slightly below parallel, but all of a sudden, like they, they, they hinge or they unwind in one spot, which is usually like L four L five L five less one. And that wait, SWAT, we want to see like them initiate the movement from more of a globally flex position as they go down. And then in a loaded squat, we want to see, you know, Quote, unquote, like not a ton, not a lot of movement in the spine. Something that looks more neutral. And again, we know that neutral is accounts rock, and it's not like this pinpoint thing, but I, you know, w we see a lot of people like who they might do a low bar squat, where they're taught to like, not let their knees go forward at all. And the knees forward allows you to post early tilt. When you want to push with the tilt and allows you to get into deeper hip flection. If you're told, okay, like low bar squat, don't let your knees go forward. Now you're probably going to have to start that squat off in a more lumbar extended position. And now to get to a certain depth, because your, you know, your pelvis is more anteriorly tilted. You're going to run out of hip flection, and then you're gonna have to bend somewhere. So now you've been using basically like unbend at that one spot, which is usually somewhere in the lumbar spine. And that's probably where we'd run the line. If we just see like a ton of movement in one spot and not like more of a global pattern. So. Again, it's, it's easier to demonstrate this stuff where we can see videos and say like, kind of yay or nay, but there are situations where I would say, look, if I'm coaching this person, I don't want them to start out in a massively extended position. And then kind of like when they get to a certain depth, reverse it and, you know, at one point, um, Sometimes it's visually easier to demonstrate that than to speak in the abstract. But you know, there's, again, this, this movement in the field where you can that any kind of load or nothing as bad, I'm not even worried about people necessarily getting hurt. I can't prove to you that if people squat, the way that we're advocating that they will or won't get hurt, it's just that we have a certain kind of aesthetic and standard for a variety of reasons, not just pain or injury related to performance and how different shapes translate. And, you know, into, um, you know, athletic endeavors. And so there's a lot, a lot of reasons why we might choose a certain position or, or shape not just related to injuries. So we're not claiming like this is the way to prevent injuries, but, um, we do, we do draw boundaries and say like, you know, if you're squatting a certain way and not meeting the standard, then it's either not an appropriate movement for you, or we're going to modify it to get you to, to hit the shapes that we want. It's funny. Cause you know, we're talking about like putting something under people's heels and how like. If you asked us that same question, like five years. Yeah. Like people would argue about like, Oh, well everybody should be barefoot squatting. And like, nobody should have anything under their heels because it's like, Changing their environment and, you know, you're, you're going to change how they adapt and all this stuff. And it seems like now every, like everything else in our field, like everything kind of comes back around and is retried again by a group of new people. And then you realize like, Oh yeah, some benefits to doing some of this stuff. And again, like, it always just goes back to like, let's keep it real. And the goal should be. The reason for what you're, what you're trying to achieve should directly you deal with somebody and, um, yeah, somebody can squat without, without anything with, with a barefoot and it looks beautiful and they get awesome depths like sweet. If they can't then who cares, let's give them a way that they can squat better where we can load them and achieve our goals. And, you know, it's never, it's never either, or, but again, I want people to, I don't want to be evasive. Like I want to answer people's questions. And so it's always about like, well, what do you actually do with people? Cause you can speak in the abstract and then no one would you guys. And that's what I would say. Like if, if I have somebody in there and I have them squat in like whatever shoe they come in and it looks fine then. Yeah. Like who the hell cares? Well, here's a hypothetical scenario that I think it's just kind of fun to play with. Um, You, you have someone that you haven't back squat and the regular, regular training shoes. It doesn't look good. You put them under a wedge and it looks how you want it to look. Um, or instead of having them, yeah. Bring the wedge and back squatting. You haven't do a front squat, Zercher squat, front loaded squat, and now they hit the shape that you want. You know, and again, it's not an either or, but for the, for the sake of just fun and the discussion, like I personally would probably rather just. Front load them and not elevate their head. I want people to ultimately squat and not need a heel lift if they need it to meet the objective then. Sure. But if like, for example, I would rather have somebody do a front loaded squat and not need the heel lift, then do a back squat need heel lift. That's just me. Like what would you guys do? I would a hundred percent agree with you. Um, if you need help with a back squat. Uh, why not to try a different position for the load? Cause then you could, like you said, and then if you don't need something, that's great. That's less help. You need to do something less assistance you because think of it, um, where I think that's going to be better off for them in the long run. Um, and then also, what was I gonna say? I can't remember Trevor, go ahead. I would say the same thing I would like, obviously I think we tend to agree on things, but yeah, like I want to give somebody as little constraints as they can to do whatever they need to be able to do. Like we talk, you know, like we have a pretty good little metal wedge here that we use with people to help them get different, get into different shapes in different positions. Um, but. Ultimately would have been or have access to that. And I think something that kind of makes it easy, makes the move in Pat and easy to learn that easier to execute on their own outside of their time with us, whether they're at the gym by themselves or at home in their home gym or whatever it is. I want to give them, whatever's going to be easiest to. For them to execute safely on their own. And I would say 99% of the time, some sort of anti loaded squat is typically what kind of lets people get into the shapes. I could talk to my dog that we want people to get into that helps express these different ranges of motion. Cause like for myself, cause like, especially with the teams were athletes. Yeah. That I work with. I want to see athletes Dorsey flex. So I want them seeing, I want them achieving a parallel shin and a parallel torso and an Andrew loaded squat is like the best way to help them do that. Whether it's with a counterweight, whether it's a goblet, whether it's a double kettlebell, whether it's a searcher, I don't really care what it is. I just want to give them something that helps them achieve the position that I know they have to be able to get into to be able to express force optimally on the field. Yeah. And I'm not, I don't even know if like, what we're saying is the right answer. It's just what we do. We're trying to be transparent and ultimately like different people come to different conclusions and still be logical. It depends on like, what are your underlying assumptions and what do you value? I suppose, like, if I, or if we valued, like we just want to maximally load this pattern in the scenario that we just mentioned. You'd probably say, okay, we'll do the back squat, not a wedge because I don't necessarily like, I don't value probably load as much as like. A certain kind of aesthetic. Yeah. An idea of what I think something should look like, and I'm not even saying that's good. Maybe that's just, that's my bias. And maybe it's cause like we're more PTs than strength coaches. And we were kind of like more influenced by like a biomechanical thought process. At least when it comes to like the performance, not necessarily pain, then you would value the front squat because if you want, like you said, parallel shins, parallel torso. Yeah. Like the, the front squat is going to do that without adding an additional. Implement, but if you value load, then you would say, okay, like I want to load is your number one priority. Then you do the back squat on a wet. So again, the answer is contingent upon. Like, what do you, what do you value? And I, again, I would probably go with that front squat and that scenario, but a lot of times the reasons that I can't totally articulate in a very clear way. And I think that, you know, a lot of the people we work with, we're not working with 80% powerlifters where like load is a goal. Like a lot of people we work with. Right. And if they're not like absolutely strong, we don't have the strongest people in the world who are always coming to us, obviously some summer more stronger than others. But, um, yeah, you could probably load somebody with a similar load anteriorly as their back squat let's say, and, or get even less of a load. Right. I have a similar benefit because for them like their strength, isn't at the highest level that I can be compared to powerlifter. So you can still improve the qualities that you're trying to achieve. Without adding a wedge and giving them a better alternative where you have to coach them less, uh, they are going to be more compliant to what you want it to look like when they're on their own, which is, I think a huge thing for us is we're trying to get people to do like very basic things well, like without us and be independent. Yeah. So if they're going to require more tools, um, with, you know, more of a fine line for error, then we might be setting themselves up to. If it's for pain, they might, you know, they might continue to feel the pain that they're having. If it's for, you know, sort of unlocked some sort of performance goal, like they might still have that barrier because of all these little things that we have to add in to try and get them to do what we want. What I would add too for that is like, you know, with this kind of hypothetical scenario, it's like, if we're then if, if the goal is. If the goal is to get somebody to be able to just increase force production capabilities. The number one movement I personally would choose would just be a trap bar, dead lift then. So, because again, it's not a barbell deadlift where let's be honest. Most people can probably dead lift more than making squat. So if I'm just looking for a pure output standpoint, weight on the bar weight that they're moving, I'm going to choose a trap bar, dead lift, because again, it's still kind of meats, you know, and that's something we've been criticized for. Online a little bit, is that like our deadlift looks our chat, our, it looks a squat and it's like, I don't care because again, I'm the movement standards that I'm looking for. People to be able to execute as a relatively parallel and relatively parallel tourism. It's kind of always there, I'm looking forward regardless of, of the, of the moving pattern or, or what they're doing. So I'm looking for, it's just increased somebody's ability to produce probably interested a trap bar, dead lift it doesn't have the same essential component in the same range of motion requirements that, you know, a front squatter Andrew lo does, but. That's kind of, undifferent different quality. I'm going to be training with that. So I would pretty much always choose a trap Ardella for like my true pure strength movement, or power or strength or explosiveness, whatever you want to call. It just depends on how you're loading it. But then I'm always going to be choosing some sort of squat pattern because I like the Essentra component of it. I like the, the, the, the answer core demands at a places on them and just the. The way it gets them to express the movement with fluxion occurring at the ankle, knee and hip, as they descend down. I think there's, that's such an undervalued thing, um, that, that can makes a huge difference for people as they get better at controlling those positions. Yeah. Like with the trap part, you know, it's, we've heard that criticism where people say, Oh, like, it's not enough of a hip hinge. It's like, well, how we teach the deadlift is very intentional. Like we're not trying to teach a pure hip hinge. We're encouraging people to let their knees go forward a little bit. So again, like doing a hip hinge, isn't bad, but it's become like the default, like if you've done lift and it's not a pure hip hip hinge, that's not a good demo, but who says, that's the rule? You know, Greg brought up like the one rep max scenario, like if you're a power lifter and then you value winning a powerlifting meet, that's your number one priority. Of course, like if you have to deviate from things that we're saying to like to win and to compete. Then do it as long as you know, what the consequences could be. And like most powerlifters that we work with, they're very aware like that this is, you know, they're willing to put themselves at risk more from an injury standpoint, even if their technique is impeccable, you know, whatever that means. Like, just because the amount of lows they're using and they're constantly, you know, competing and doing one RMS, like by virtue of just the load alone, you're more at risk for injury for getting the mechanical piece of it. Um, so like, if your priority is winning and you have to like go into a quote unquote blank or whatever. Then, like do it, if that's important to you, as long as you know, what the trade offs are. Um, but yeah, it just comes down to like, what's, what's, what's your intent and what do you value? But when it comes to like one RMS for like our setting, like I know we don't like speaking in absolutes in a physical therapy. Like we have scenario, I would literally never want RM somebody, um, and probably anything. And yet in a team sport athlete, I would never want to ramp somebody. Um, I'm not like a powerlifting coach. If I was a probably think coach, then. I would, or I have them do like, you know, like the Russians call it, like the, the competition backs versus a training max. Like what's, what's your maximum train that isn't going to like arouse you beyond a certain level. But then I would push, you know, I might have somebody in training do like, you know, 90% of one RM for like singles, but I would, I would never outside of like working with a competitive strength athlete, say like, okay, I want you to go for broke here and show me what your true max is. I just, from a cost benefit standpoint, don't think that makes any sense. Yeah. I, 100% agree with that. It's like, I, you know, even, even in the latest stages of getting somebody prepared for sport, especially like a team sport, as we're talking about not misspoke as somebody who's sport is lifting, it's like I would never, ever, ever touch anything, even close to a, to a runner, want to run regardless of what the movement is. I just don't. I just there's way more risk than, than benefit, way more risk than reward in doing something like that. Yeah, we're not, we're not low diverse. We're just saying we wouldn't do one hour. Yeah. I think our sort of thought process on, like, we don't really care. Like we don't delineate things as like hip hinge or knee dominant. I think we care more about like hip flexion or hip extension. It's sort of our, how we break things down and like our course, for example. So if you think about it that way, then it kind of doesn't necessarily matter, like. How much of a squat, it looks like, like you're, and it's not like you're not using your hamstrings. If you let your knees bend, like you better for going to be using your hamstrings, if you're going to be lifting something heavy off the floor. So, um, that's something else too with, with, you know, when you teach somebody to like overuse moving at one joint, you put them off balance so much. So then your, their, their ability to like be an efficient and effective mover in whatever position you have, like kind of, um, Put them in from the outside is kind of Odie throws off what they would naturally do in the first place. It's like the last thing I want somebody to feel when they're, you know, squatting 400 pounds or pulling 400 pounds or whatever it is something with like a substantial load. It's them focusing on like pushing one part of their body. Like. Outside of the bracelet support. So then they have to fight with the rest of the body to keep themselves balanced and stop themselves from hurting. So I think like when he tried to overdo a hip hinge or to try to overdo like the knees fall or, or whatever it is, it doesn't even matter what joint is, but just overcoming like excessive movement in one joint, you throw away that the natural, um, distribution of stress across the body, which is always what we're looking for. And again, like we. We disrupt their ability to have balance, which if you're not balanced, there's no way you're going to be. There's no way you're going to move well. Or there's no way you're going to be able to move as optimally or as efficiently or as effectively as you can. Awesome. I think we beat that one up. We had a nice little bit of a tangent. That was awesome. Thanks for listening to this. Keep it real talk episode number eight. Um, we, we hope you enjoy it. We're going to be continuing to do these where we have people come on and ask questions as become part of the discussion. So feel free to get in, to get the invites to come on. 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