Back to Basics with Hip Hinges

Walking into the DHP rehab area, you’ll notice patients lined against the wall holding a wooden dowel to brace themselves; one end in hand and the other end placed just a foot or two in front of their own feet on the ground. You’ll most likely see patients pushing their hips back

and touching their glutes to the wall. This, my friends, is a popular exercise in the DHP facility we like to call hip hinging.

Many of the patients we see (children, adults, athletes), perform much of their forward bending using their lower backs, placing much stress on the lumbar spine.  As a toddler we rarely see this lower back bend because we primarily used our hips to bend over, so the question is – what has happened between then and now to make this fundamental movement pattern change?

This compensation or misuse typically occurs in individuals who have dealt with injuries and thus, use this method to avoid pain or limited range of motion. In addition, those who’ve simply adapted to poor posture for prolonged periods of time bend the lower back because it’s simply the easiest way for them to move.

Using the hip hinging method that is often seen in clinic,

we teach patients to utilize core muscles to support the spine, torso and pelvis. The hip hinging exercise teaches the body to re-learn a basic functional movement pattern; the body re-learns to use the hips to initiate the forward bend all while bracing the core. Ultimately, this will prevent the slumped or curved forward posture that often looks as though the individual is tucking their ‘tail’ between their legs.

As an essential movement to everyday life, we need to understand that the hip hinging mechanism can help when picking up your child,

grabbing the newspaper off the front driveway, and even at the gym when athletes perform their daily workouts that involve lunging or squatting. In addition, athletes understand that the ultimate base position for sport involves bent hips and

knees in addition to an engaged core, benefiting athletes to effectively generate more controlled power.

All in all, as a functional movement the hip hinge is the ultimate foundation for major lifting techniques, such as the squat and deadlift – and most of us perform these movements in some way during our busy day-to-day lives.

So it only makes sense that we all pick up that dowel, find a spot on the wall and re-teach ourselves to hip hinge effectively.