It All Hinges on This
Maximize power and avoid injury with the hip hinge.
Most of us exercise with the primary goal ofÂ improving our day-to-day life. We all know it isÂ important to get cardiovascular activity for our heartÂ health, but what about exercising to improve theÂ way we move?
Many of us spend our days in a typical office environment whereÂ most of the lifting we do involves a coffee pot or a stack ofÂ papers. So when the warm weather arrives and we look forwardÂ to getting a little sunshine while we do some yard work, there isÂ the chance that more than a few of us are going to end up with atÂ least a sore back, if not worse!
The reason many of us end up with a sore or injured back isÂ because we are not moving the way our bodies are meant to. WeÂ put a lot of stress on the lower back and spine, instead of usingÂ the power we have in our legs and hips. With a proper hip hinge,Â however, you can start to maximize the power of your lower bodyÂ muscles and help yourself avoid injury.
Our hips and knees are meant to bendÂ with a wide range of motion, whereas ourÂ spines were meant to stay relatively straight.Â Unless we bend our hips and knees properly,Â however, we are bending through our lumbarÂ and/or thoracic spine. This puts us at greatÂ risk for injury! Let us look at the proper wayÂ to sit down, i.e. the Hip Hinge with PosteriorÂ Weight Shift:
You should feel the weight at your hipsÂ shift back some with a bit of a knee bendÂ as you lower yourself to the ground.
You should feel your body weight moreÂ over your heels than your toes.
Your back should stay relatively flatÂ with your shoulders back. Think aboutÂ good posture!
Your knees should bend slightly, and yourÂ shins should stay vertical.
Squeeze your glutes, and bring your hipsÂ back forward in one swift motion to returnÂ to the starting position.
The reason many of us end up with a sore or injured back isÂ because we are not moving the way our bodies are meant to.
Want to see if you are doing it right? TakeÂ a stick long enough to reach your tailboneÂ while staying in contact with the back ofÂ your head, and hold it in place while youÂ attempt the hip hinge. With proper form,Â the stick should stay in contact with theÂ back of your head, the middle of yourÂ back, and your tailbone throughout theÂ movement. Watch yourself in a mirror toÂ track your progress and see where youÂ are going wrong.
Once you feel you have mastered the form of the hip hinge, tryÂ adding some weight to increase the difficulty with theÂ Kettlebell Deadlift:
Start by standing facing a mirror with a kettlebell (that you feelÂ comfortable lifting) in between your feet. Using your proper hipÂ hinge form, lower your body to the point where you can grasp theÂ kettlebell handle with both hands. Explode up into a standing position with the kettlebell, keeping your arms straight and relaxedÂ and using your glutes and inner thighs to generate the power.
There are many other exercises and variations you can do to buildÂ strength. You can progress by using heavier kettlebells, using aÂ barbell for a standard deadlift, incorporating a kettlebell swing, etc.
The hip hinge and these functional strength exercises will helpÂ your body both learn to move in the proper way and buildÂ strength to move objects in the proper way. It is important toÂ make sure you are moving properly, so if you have any questionsÂ or concerns, consult with a certified personal trainer to make sureÂ you are doing it right!