How to "Hip Hinge" to prevent back pain when you bend over

Updated: Nov 14, 2019

After sharing this NPR article on my Facebook page that recommends using a hip hinge motion instead of rounding the back when you bend over, I've had several people ask me about what a hip hinge looks like.

A hip hinge is a natural and functional movement that comes easily for young children and has been perfected in the athletic and fitness world. Unfortunately, in our society most of us have lost the daily use and coordination of how to bend over in this way. Rounding our backs is how most adults in the West bend over, and this puts much more strain and wear on the spine. A hip hinge movement takes advantage of the strength of our hip sockets to bear our movement, keeps our hamstrings flexible, and gives our backs a break by maintaining a neutral spine.

Adopting this position when bending over in your daily activities like emptying the dishwasher, taking out the trash, or picking-up a child is something you can start doing TODAY to protect your back from unnecessary strain. Get that butt back and your hips hinging when lifting from the ground! It’s NOT about keeping your chest up and squatting like a baseball catcher (whose butt is tucked underneath). It’s about keeping your back fairly straight but not up like in a deadlift. Hinge at the hips and your back will stay fairly straight in a SAFE way as you bend to reach the ground. We can learn from other cultures who don’t have anywhere CLOSE to the back issues and back surgeries that we in the West have!