On a daily basis, we all use the same fundamental movement patterns to pick up objects from the floor, to squat, to sit up, to lift, and to do countless other things. While these movements may seem ordinary and straightforward, many people fail to do them correctly, and they end up injuring their low backs or knees due to improper form, muscle imbalances, and/or poor hip mobility.
The hip hinge is a fundamental movement that is important not only in the gym but also in daily life. Lots of power is stored in the hips, and many people don’t know how to harness it. What is a hip hinge? A hip hinge is a forward bending movement originating through the hip joint while maintaining a neutral spine and and a slight bend in the knees. If you ever watch a toddler pick up an object from the ground, you will observe a perfect hip hinge — it’s a shame that most of us lose this ability as adults. In the gym, the hip hinge is a fundamental movement pattern used for lifting heavy loads, such as in deadlifts or good mornings and for performing explosive movements like kettlebell swings, cleans, or snatches. This pattern allows us to move more safely and efficiently in a variety of situations.
A big problem that many people have is that they are unable to move their hips without also moving their lower back. This is especially common in those who spend 8 to 10 hours sitting everyday. The inability to dissociate the lumbar spine (low back) and pelvis due to muscular imbalances in the hip is a common limiting factor and can cause a whole slew of low back injuries due to rounding of the back.
A correct hip hinge emphasizes a weight shift towards the rear and allows an individual to return to an upright position using the much bigger and stronger muscles of the hips. The spine should remain neutral, and movement should only occur at the hip joint. When done properly, it is one of the strongest and safest movements we can make. It is how we should be picking things up from the floor, whether it is a kleenex or a heavy barbell.
How well can you hip hinge?