The hip hinge is a common movement pattern used in everyday activities as well as with exercise. For example, the movement can be used when bending to pick up an object, and it is also the main motion involved in performing squats, dead lifts, and various other exercises.
The hip hinge is great for mobility, strength, and balance. This movement can help keep the body injury free and prevent lower back pain when done properly. It helps strengthen your posterior chain (the backside of the body) and will help you as you perform activities of daily living.
Unfortunately, it is a movement often done wrong, which can cause back pain. This sometimes results from a common mistake: collapsing the shoulders forward with the chin coming toward the chest. Done correctly, the hip hinge movement should start at the hips and be felt in the hamstrings, the muscles on the back of thigh. Throughout the movement your shoulders and hips should remain in a straight line.
PWC trainer Heather Boggess shares step-by-step how to do the hip hinge correctly:
1. Begin in a standing position with your feet shoulder-width apart. Open your chest by standing up nice and tall. Gently exhale and shift your weight to your heels while pushing your hips back and bending at the hips.
2. Keep your head in a neutral position with your ears above your shoulders as you are hinging. Your goal is to keep your back straight while bending forward. Your torso should become horizontal or parallel with the floor, and you should have a small bend in the knees. Once you’ve reached your end of movement you should feel a stretch behind the legs, not pain in the lower back.
3. Inhale while returning to your standing position, bringing your hips forward and adding a small squeeze in your glutes to complete the move.
The photo above shows correct placement of the bar in contact with the back of your head, your thoracic spine (between your shoulder blades) and your sacrum.
The photo below demonstrates incorrect form that may compromise your back.