Hip Hinging 101: The most important movement you need to know (the short & sweet version)
By Dr. Justin Cronk, DC
It doesn’t matter if you are a 70-year-old man who just wants to pick up his grandchild without pain, or a 22-year-old professional athlete who wants more explosive power – the hip hinge is a fundamental movement for them both.
When you do it correctly, a hip hinge can build real strength in the glutes, hamstrings and low back and it indeed translates to more strength and speed – especially when dumping the PVC pipe and adding a little weight.
The hip hinge is one of the many movements we utilize in the clinic when dealing with patients presenting with low back pain. When people don’t move through their hips properly, they place way too much of a demand on the structures of the lumbar spine, which can result in overuse injuries such as disc bulges/herniations as well as degenerative changes to the boney structures of the spine due to the increased stresses you are placing on it.
When people learn to move through their hips properly (via a hip hinge pattern), they effectively “spare” the spine by taking a TON of stress off of your low back and placing it onto the hips instead, where it belongs. That’s what the hips were designed for after all!
Here are a few cues to get you started.
1. Stand with your feet approximately shoulder width apart and keep your feet straight. Think about how your feet would be positioned if you were about to do a broad jump – that’s it.
2. Maintain a neutral spine throughout the movement. This is where the PVC pipe comes in handy since it gives you some tactile feedback and prevents you from cheating
3. Keep your knees “soft” by maintaining a slight bend in your knees.
4. Bend with your hips rather than the spine, and if the PVC breaks contact at any point, stop, reset, and try again.
5. Turn the knees out slightly so that the majority of your weight is on the outsides of your feet, but DO NOT let your big toe break contact with the ground.
6. Do the movement in a slow & controlled manner. Don’t rush! You get more out of the movement by doing this slowly.
If it’s too easy? You can step-up your game by adding a barbell or kettlebell. You can also do cable pull-throughs or do a single leg RDL.
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