Understanding the Hip Hinge
We have all heard the expression, “lift with your legs, not your back,” but how exactly does one do this? Well, it all starts with the hips. The hip hinge is a fundamental movement pattern that should be utilized for various activities. Instead of bending or rounding forward at the low back, the first movement should be a “hinge” at the hips. Hinging at the hips creates optimal power and strength by recruiting the glutes and hamstrings while keeping the spine in a neutral position. This ultimately may reduce the likelihood of low back injury because it helps to minimize stress on the spine. Additionally, if you have a current lower back injury, this may help reduce the chances of forward bending movements being aggravating.
Here we see three pictures. The first picture shows forward bending mostly coming from the lumbar spine rather than at the hips. The second picture shows a proper hip hinge to aid in forward bending. Note that in the third picture, the model’s lower back remains quite neutral and he is using his leg and gluteal muscles to move. The third picture demonstrates bending at the hips while keeping the back straight with the aid of a dowel. This can be useful for training your body to get used to this movement so it becomes more natural.
Not only is the hip hinge essential for exercise activities like the deadlift, squat, and kettlebell swing – it is essential for simple efforts and daily tasks.
- Picking up objects or heavier loads
- Rising from a chair
- Leaning over the counter or sink
- Unloading the dishwasher