How to Hip Hinge Effectively

Low back pain is an affliction that affects a significant percentage of the population. Its severity can vary from minor tweaks to complete disability. For many within this group, back pain has become apart of life - constantly dictating changes in daily activities and hobbies, affecting quality of life, and creating fear-avoidant behavior patterns. With so many people struggling daily, it's no wonder that we are currently amidst a huge opioid crisis.


Enter the Hip Hinge. While research has provided good evidence for general exercise as a non-invasive and effective intervention for low back pain, the hip hinge can become a powerful tool for rehabilitating these individuals. 

What is the hip hinge? It can be described as bending forward from the hips while maintaining a relatively straight low back position. A more technical definition might be: a posterior weight shift starting from the pelvis while bending the trunk forward and maintaining a neutral lumbar position. What this movement pattern does is utilize the powerful muscles located within the hips and legs to initiate many motions we perform on a daily basis. It can be used to initiate the first part of a sit-to-stand or placing a heavy box on the floor. It's additionally an absolute necessity for powerlifters, weightlifters and people that compete in Crossfit whether it's done recreationally or competitively.

Now don't get me wrong. What I'm saying here is not supposed to imply that we should avoid rounding our low back; not at all. That would just be trading one fear avoidant behavior for another. And the fact is that the body is actually quite resilient. However it is my opinion that in the presence of previous low back injury or when individuals are lifting hundreds of pounds, knowing how to perform the hip hinge is absolutely essential.

Here's how to do it. For readers that would prefer to watch a video, please take a look at the following video. Otherwise text directions on how to hip hinge effectively are below the video:

How to Hip Hinge:

  • A dowel rod or broomstick handle is very useful initially when teaching the hip hinge. It provides a tactile feedback to the individual as they bend forward. Eventually you would ideally remove the rod altogether and practice the movement pattern that way.
  • With the rod straight up and down the person's back and held in place, three points of contact must be maintained at ALL times
    • Back of the head
    • In between the shoulder blades
    • Sacrum (just above the intergluteal cleft)
  • Begin by bending the knees slight and bend forward. Imagine trying to reach the buttocks straight back towards a distant object. Practicing with the back a few feet away from a wall is very useful for this particular cue.
  • ANY departure from the above three points of contacts indicates a fault.
    • For example, rounding of the lumbar spine will often be shown by the lower sacrum contact being lost.

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