The Hip Hinge

In our office, we deal with a lot of low back pain. We see it on a daily, almost hourly basis. One thing we always assess and review with our patients is the hip hinge. “What is the hip hinge?” you ask. Well simply put, it’s moving through your hips as opposed to your low back when bending over. Whether it’s to bend over to tie your shoes, pick up a purse, or bending over at your bathroom sink to wash your face, the hip hinge is crucial in many every day activities.

One of the easiest ways to visualize the hip hinge is if you think of the old novelty drinking bird toy. The bird maintains a stiff, rigid, NEUTRAL spine, and pivots only through its hips when bending forward. When applied to a human, the movement is the same. The goal is to maintain a strong, rigid, neutral spine, and hinge through the femoroacetabular joints. Now a lot of this is predicated on the patient’s ability to brace their core, but we’ll cover that in another blog.

If we properly hinge through our hips, we are technically flexing them. This puts our glutes and hamstrings in lengthened position. Think of springs being stretched, building potential energy and ready to return to their normal position. These muscles are MEANT to do this kind of work. They’re really good at it and can do it for long periods of time, with heavy loads, over and over. Our low back musculature… Not so much. Our low back muscles can't handle the same loads, and therefore fatigue, and fail. This can lead to a number of problems, including low back spasms, disc bulges/herniations, sciatica, etc.

A very simple drill you can do is to grab a broom stick or wood dowel and hold it against your back. The stick should maintain contact in three spots, the back of the head, between the shoulder blades, and low back/sacrum. Now simply, bend forward. If you maintain contact in all three places, you should feel a good stretch in your hamstrings. Now using that tension, squeeze your glutes and hamstrings to stand back up. Additionally, you want to keep your knees just out of fully locked. Keeping the knees fully locked when bending over puts unnecessary stress on the knees and is not ideal for bending over.

If you have been experiencing low back pain with your daily activities, schedule an appointment with one of our providers TODAY!

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