The Five Most Common Hip Hinge Mistakes

The Hip Hinge is a movement we cover with EVERY patient that comes into our office. Doesn't matter if we're dealing with shoulder or ankle pain, having the basic understanding of how to bend forward can save you from years of pain.

It is a foundational movement on which all other movements are built upon which is why it's important to spend time on it. While a seemingly simple movement there many different mistakes that can lead the improper loading of our bodies during the hinge. We cover them here.

Teaching the Hip Hinge

To perform a proper hip hinge there are two main things to pay attention too.

1. Maintaining Neutral Spine

A neutral spine is a term that gets thrown around a lot in the movement realm but isn't always clear to someone without that background. Essentially, neutral spine is the natural position of the spine when all three curves are present and in good alignment. It is the strongest position of the spine and ensures that impacts of our daily life are being distributed correctly to help avoid early wear and tear.

2. Unlock at the Hips

When bending forward it is imperative that we unlock at our hips (vs. the knee or spine). This keeps the movement in the hips and our center of gravity over our weight bearing joints.

When teaching the Hip Hinge it's nice to use a PVC as a cue. Placing the PVC along the spine it should maintain contact with three points (back of the head, thoracic spine (mid back), and pelvis). We should also see a natural lordotic curve in our neck and low back.

 
Hip Hinge.jpg
 


The Five Most Common Hip Hinge Mistakes

Now that we know what 'normal' looks like. Let's look at 5 of the most common mistakes we see in the clinic.

1. Rounding in the Back

The most common of the mistakes and usually the easiest to spot. Rounding of the back creates to much spinal flexion and is the number one contributor to non-traumatic low back pain.

With a PVC, this is seen when the pole comes off the pelvis as shown in the following picture.

 
Hip Hinge - Back Rounding.jpg
 

2. Not Sending Hips Back

In this mistake, the patient hinges at the hips and can keep a neutral spine but fails to send their hips back. This puts our center of gravity too far forward and will easily lead to low back rounding/pain.

This can be seen when neutral spine is maintained but legs remain straight (no bend in knee).

 
Hip Hinge - Not Sending Hips Back.jpg
 

3. The 'Hinge Squat' (too much knee bend)

While sending your hips back will create a small amount of knee flexion, the only 'movement' should be at the hips. With too much knee bend we lose the tension in our hamstrings that is imperative in lifting and other activities that require us to generate power from the hips.

 
Hinge Hinge Squat.jpg
 

4. Extension in the Thoracic Spine

A mistake usually seen in the hypermobile individual is overextension in the thoracic spine.

Harder to see in this picture (because I'm the opposite of hypermobile) but what you'll see with these patients is the thoracic spine come off the PVC while maintaining contact with back of head and pelvis.

 
Hip Hinge - Hyper Extension.jpg
 

5. Rocking the Pelvis Forward

A lot of patients will hyper-extend their low back while initiating their hip hinge. This can lead to mistake number four (extension in thoracic spine) or dumping our pelvis forward, putting more pressure on the lumbar facet joints and contributing to pain.

This is also more subtle but is seen as patients initiate the squat. Look for the pelvis to move before they send their hips back.

 
 

Most of the time a patient doesn't know they are making the mistake, which makes the correction easy. Simply improving their body awareness and ingraining the correct pattern through repetition we can improve on any of these mistakes.


Evolve Performance Healthcare specializes in achieving sustainable pain relief through the combination of full body chiropractic care with movement and strength programming. Please reach out with any questions!

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