The hip hinge is probably THE most important exercise you can master to protect your low back.While a seemingly simple movement, getting the right patterning can be difficult for some and more commonly breaks down as we fatigue. By keeping our movement in our hips and center of gravity over our weight bearing joints, mastering the hip hinge is key to protecting our low back in fitness and in life.
How to perform the hip hinge: There are really two cues to keep in mind when performing the hip hinge.
- Hips Back - The hinge needs to be initiated by sending the hips back to maintain the correct center of gravity and spare our joints. Our shins should remain vertical.
- Neutral Spine - Not letting back round, especially at the bottom of the movement.
At the clinic we teach the hip hinge through the following progressions. Let's start with the easiest.
1. Butt Taps
The hip hinge movement must be started by send our hips backwards. Many people make the mistake of simply bending their trunk forward, which leads to low back rounding at the bottom of the movement.
The 'Butt Tap' exercise is a great introduction to the hip hinge and teaches us to 'send our hips back' when initiating the hip hinge
2. Three Point Contact Hip Hinge
We also need to make sure we maintain a neutral spine throughout the movement (no rounding!).
Adding a PVC Pipe to our Hip Hinge movement is a nice cue to avoid rounding of the low back.
3. Banded Good Mornings
Further ingrain the hip hinge pattern by adding some banded resistance (which is far easier on the spine than barbell variation). Focus on using your glutes and hamstrings to counter resistance from band.
4. Weighted Hip Hinge
In his variation we use a kettlebell, but you can also use a barbell, dumbell or any other form of weight. The idea with weighted hip hinges is to target the hamstring/glute complex specifically. Adding more resistance for increase strength and better stretch.
5. Performance Progressions - Banded Hip Pulls or KB Swings
The hip hinge is a movement used in all sports and fitness routines. As we further ingrain the hip hinge pattern we can add it to more functional movements, protecting our low back as we move throughout our day and at the gym. Here are a few examples of how the hip hinge is used to generate power from the hips.
Remember, practice doesn't make perfect. Practice makes permanent. The more repeptitions we put in, the more