Why Do We Harp on the Hip Hinge?

I know you’ve all wondered this. Why in the hell do we care so much about the hip hinge? Why are we constantly in your ear about it when you aren’t doing it perfectly?

Lower back pain is one of the most common ailments that brings new people through our door. It’s a problem that affects millions of people, and it can be especially troublesome for athletes (recreational or professional), who are constantly pushing their bodies to the limit. It can range from an occasional nagging pain to totally debilitating and it keeps many athlete from performing at their peak. Luckily, however, it’s usually one of the easiest problems to fix, if you know what you’re doing. Enter the hip hinge.

What causes lower back pain?

It is different for everyone, but a couple of things are probably at least contributing, if not totally to blame for a given case of lower back pain.

Inactive and/or weak glutes – in our society, it has become increasingly common for a person to spend the majority of their waking hours seated in a chair. Many people spend their entire workday seated at a computer, then sit in a car and drive home, where they sit down and have dinner. Being in this position for hours on end over an extended period of time will eventually cause the hip flexors to shorten. As the hip flexors shorten, the glutes must relax to accommodate the extra tightness.

Over time, this leads to inactive, weak glutes that are not capable of producing the amount of force that they should be. This, combined with #2, leads to over-reliance on other muscles, like the spinal erectors, which are not made to bear the load that could and should be carried by the glutes.

Poor movement patterns – The second major contributing factor in many causes of back pain is poor movement. Basically, this means moving in a way that does not efficiently distribute the load being moved, which places excessive stress on parts of the body that are not made to handle it.

The most common example of this we see is when someone bends over to pick something up of the ground, and they immediately flex (bend) their lumbar spine (lower back). This puts a great deal of stress on the lower back and basically takes the glutes out of the equation as far as helping you pick that thing up. Instead you’re relying on your spinal erectors to do the job, which aren’t made for lifting. They’re made for keeping you standing straight up (erect), as the name implies.

You may be able to get away with doing this for a while, but eventually, it will catch up to you and you will become one of the 75-80% of people who experience lower back pain at some point in their lives.

The hip hinge, god bless it, helps us solve both of these problems. When we teach you the hip hinge movement, what we are really teaching you to do is use your glutes. The hip hinge is nothing more than a simple movement pattern that transfers weight from your lower back to your glutes and hamstrings, which are much stronger and therefore better equipped to bear that weight. Essentially, we are trying to reprogram how your body moves and which muscles you use when it does. As you learn how to engage your glutes and protect your lower back, you are also strengthening and “waking up” your glutes.\

What movements do we use to dial in the hip hinge?

Hip Hinge with PVC On Back.
Romanian Deadlift
Banded Hip Hinge
Banded Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch

To learn more about how perfecting the hip hinge can help alleviate lower back pain and take your training and performance to the next level, check out our website at sisustrong.com or sign up for a free consultation using our nifty online calendar!

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