The hinge movement is one in which the body bends forward and in half. The spine stays neutral and the bend should occur right at your hips. You know you are doing this movement incorrectly if your lower back hurts! It is one of the most essential movements to learn and master for back strength, but improper form is a common causes of back pain and injury.
The hinge is a functional movement that helps us safely bend over and pick things up – something we all do several times throughout any given day. Furthermore, hinges can assist in strengthening the core muscles which can lead to reduced back pain, improvements in balance, and better movements of your truck.
Target muscles: gluteus maximus, hamstrings, erector spinae (lower back)
Stabilizer muscles: transverse abdominals/core muscles are also recruited
How to Perform a Proper Hip Hinge Exercise
Stand about 10cm away from a wall, facing outwards, with the feet shoulder width apart.
Keeping your shoulder blades push back and down throughout the entire movement.
Slowly bend at the hips, keeping the knees soft and pushing the weight back into your heels.
Touch the wall behind you with your buttocks.
It helps to place your hands in the creases of your hips, so when you perform the hinge you can physically feel the hip hinging.
If you feel the stretch in your glutes and hamstrings, you are doing it right! When you feel the hamstrings engage, return slowly back to the standing start position.
For a more advanced option try gradually adding resistance with a kettle bell, as per the video below.
Two Common Mistakes to Watch Out For
Blurring the line between a ‘hinge’ and ‘squat’. When you squat, the knee join is a defining aspect of the movement pattern – but in a hinge, movement begins at the hips. It’s easy to feel as though you want to bend your knees, when the focus should be on simply pushing the butt back.
Using the lower back to hinge instead of the hips. This gives that lower back that ‘hunched over’ look, instead of keeping the spine neutral. Using your lower back incorrectly can cause the back to ache. Keep your shoulder blades pushed ‘back and down’ and your ‘chest open’.
If you find it difficult to bend over to pick things up you should practice this exercise to build up your strength and protect your back. We recommend speaking to one of our accredited exercise physiologists to help you with correct hinge form for better quality of life. Our exercise physiologists are available on the Sunshine Coast, Gympie, Tin Can Bay and Brisbane districts. Make an appointment in one of our clinics, or arrange for a home visit with our mobile exercise physiology service.