Bending Forward without Pain: The Hip Hinge

Posted on June 29, 2016

One of the most common movement mistakes we see in the PT clinic is over bending the low back when bending forward.  

Why we see this a lot:

It’s easy to do.  By just flexing your low back you can rest on the ligaments and muscles of your spine without having to use much effort.

Why it’s a problem:

It’s not a problem to do this occasionally picking up light objects from the floor, but it is a problem when you do it over and over again, especially with heavier objects.  Over time it can stress your ligaments, muscles, and discs enough to cause an injury. It’s important to be able to have awareness of how to control your pelvis and your low back when bending forward to decrease stress on your spine and your risk for injury.

What to do about it:

First, in order to control your pelvis in standing, you have to be able to do it in other positions, so make sure you check out our pelvic tilts and get those down in lying down, sitting, hands and knees, and standing.

Make sure you are able to identify being too rounded, too arched, and neutral in the middle.  It’s this neutral point we want to be able to find with our hip hinge.

Once you’ve got this down, it’s time to work into the hip hinge exercise.  First, we explain why it’s important to be able to hip hinge:

Now that you know why you should know how to hip hinge, put it into practice with the exercise:

Make sure to practice the hip hinge in those varied foot positions, because that’s where it becomes most important.  Then, integrate it into your life.  Bending forward to wash your hands in the sink, hip hinge! Picking up something from the floor, hip hinge! Just practice, practice, practice.  Once you have it down, you can start strengthening with some deadlifts.  If you don’t always have access to weights, a single leg deadlift works great too! You can work on those here:

Once you get strong enough, you can add weights to those too!  You can also add direction with our 3 way RDLs.

We hope that helps you improve your forward bend, gets those glutes stronger, and keeps you from having back pain now and in the future!

Happy hip hinging!

Dr. Dane Happeny, PT, DPT, Doctor of Physical Therapy

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