A proper hip hinge… Just the prescription you need for your lower back pain



A hip hinge is defined as the maximum range of motion possible through a bend in the hips with as little bend as possible in the knee. We are all familiar with this movement from exercises like deadlifts but is it great for more than just killer hamstrings. This motion might be the prescription you need to cure that lower back pain.



The relationship between a hip hinge and lower back pain



Outside of the gym, the hip hinge is the fundamental movement we use to protect our lower back when we pick things up. This move allows us to bend at the hip joint instead of bending at the lumbar spine. Doing this gives us the ability to keep a neutral spine, avoiding injury. Unfortunately, a lack of physical activity has caused people to have far less mobility in their hips than they should. Things like sitting at a desk all day cause tight hamstrings which makes it more difficult to bend over properly. This is a dangerous cycle, since bending from the spine rather than the hips can lead to lower back pain, which can make one far less motivated to be active in the first place!



How to Improve your hip hinge


Large muscle groups like our hamstrings and glutes are far more equipped than our backs to bare weight. This is where the saying “Lift with your legs, not your back” comes from. Although most of us have heard this, it’s sometimes easier said than done. Here are a few cues you can use to assist you bending and lifting from your hips rather than your back:


  • Put all your weight in your heels. This helps active the posterieure chain (hamstrings and glutes).
  • Lead with your chest to prevent a curve in your spine and stomach.
  • You want a minimal bend in the knee or “soft knees”. This helps hold tension in the hamstrings and glutes so that your back doesn’t feel the need to take over.  



Practice makes perfect


Of course, if you have been bending incorrectly for years, the proper movement isn’t going to just happen overnight. It takes time to form proper patterns and gain the mobility to do so. Try this mobility deadlift next time your in the gym!


  • Grab a foam roller. Place one end where the ankle and foot meet and then place your palm on the other end. Left foot and left hand together and then your right foot with right hand.
  • Soften the knee on the side your holding the foam roller in and act as if you’re pushing your foot back with your palm.Hip hinge demonstration Do this slowly, fifteen times each side.