You may be asking yourself, what the hell does it mean to hip hinge and why is it so important. Yep, that was pretty much me a few years back. Let me start with a quick lesson in the anatomy of your hip joint. The head of your femur connects to your hip socket which is called your acetabulum, and these two things essentially create your hip joint. Your hip joint is considered a ball and socket joint which allows multidirectional movement and rotation. Another example of a ball and socket joint in your body would be the shoulder joint, but we will save that one for another day. Your hip joint is capable of external rotation, internal rotation, abduction, adduction, flexion, and extension, basically every direction.
So, what does it mean to hip hinge? Hip hinging is a posterior weight shift through the sagittal plane moment where the hips become the axis through the lower and upper extremity through a neutral spine. To break that down, it basically means pushing your butt back and loading tension in your hamstrings (that tight, stretch feeling) while not going into flexion (anterior rounding) in your lumbar, or thoracic spine. It is also worth noting that your knees should never be locked out when performing this movement. What we want to shoot for is what we call “soft” knees, which basically means having a slight bend at the knee.
Why is it important for us to hinge through our hips? Well, hip hinging is very effective in regards to correct movement patterns and injury prevention. It is vitally important for people to be able to recognize and feel the difference between moving through the hips, and moving through the lumbar spine, or even through their knees. The ability to hip hinge has a tremendous carry over to athletic performance. Think about it. Running, jumping, squatting, deadlifting, all involves loading the hips. Once you are able to master this movement, you will move better, feel better, and will be on your way to becoming a much more stronger, and capable individual.
There are many common mistakes that are made by people who try this movement for the first time, and that’s perfectly fine. Some Examples of these common mistakes include locking the knees out as I mentioned earlier, pivoting through the lumbar spine, breaking at the knees and not the hips, and a plethora of other things. Luckily, we have many ways that we can progressively reach a clean, solid hip hinge movement by slowly working up to it.
A quick few examples include performing a glute bridge laying on the floor, to a hip bridge on a bench with you upper back laying on the bench, a 45 degree hyperextension, which is an excellent machine in assisting in this movement, and RDL, a goblet squat, and from there you should be able to progress to much more complex movements. Starting with just your bodyweight is usually how I would ease one of my own personal training clients into any of these movements. Once they master that, then we can add weight.
I’m going to include some video examples of specific hip hinging movements that are from our very own NBS Fitness youtube channel.
In this video, you can see that David is pushing back into his hips, while not rounding in his lumbar area, he is keeping his glutes engaged and squeezing them to pull himself back up.
Here is yet another hip hinge movement demonstrated by David using a pair of dumbbells. If you look closely you can see the similarities between this movement, and the one in the video shown above.
Here is a slightly more complex hip hinge movement that takes a bit more focus and effort. It is worth noting here that this particular exercise requires a proper abdominal bracing technique, in order to keep from rounding in the lower back. It is advised to be able to properly brace during the hip hinge movement before doing it with any considerable amount of weight, which will be different from person to person.
I hope this helps all of you understand a little better what it means to hip hinge, and why it’s so important. If you want to feel better, move better, and become stronger, then it is essential that you learn this movement. If anyone has any questions, or comments related to this topic, please post them in the comments section below. If you are a member of NBS, please don’t hesitate to approach me and ask any questions in person, even if I haven’t had my morning coffee yet.