2017 new fitness journey VII: bending at the hip

Exercise to improve blood flow

 

The ‘hip bend’ or ‘hip hinge’ is a movement we perform easily when we are toddlers, but as we grow older and our spine starts to develop, we allow this natural flexibility and mobility to waste away. We end up using and depending upon the spine far more than we should. This tends to be exacerbated by a sedentary lifestyle and often leads to lower back pain related injuries. If natural flexibility and mobility were maintained such injuries might be completely avoidable. As a result it should be obvious why a ‘hip hinge’ compound movement should be mastered in any training program. While this movement is to some extent involved in a squat, there are some subtle differences.

The precise movement

The actual ‘hip hinge’ is best described as being able to bend at the hips, keeping the knees soft, maintaining a neutral spine and being able to end up with your torso parallel to the ground.

What if you can’t do this?

If you are unable to complete the movement this means you will most likely have tight hip flexors and hamstrings. Take this as a reasonably serious warning and start working to correct it to reduce the risk of straining your lower back. It’s worth emphasising that the hip bend is one of the primal movement patterns we as humans should be able to perform.

Once the technique has been mastered

Once able to perform the hip hinge to the extent your torso ends up parallel to the ground you will then be able to develop a repertoire of exercises to help you become stronger in this position, for example:

  • the kettlebell swing
  • the deadlift
  • variations of the deadlift (e.g. sumo stance or Romanian deadlift)

These are all classic foundation exercises for any training program, with many transferrable benefits to a variety of sports as diverse as rugby and rowing, to name but a few.

Further, these exercises will help:
  • ingrain good posture
  • build core strength
  • help you to use all your muscles in unison

But NEVER FORGET – technique is everything. 

When performing these exercises, make sure your hips are doing the work.

 

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          About the author

Alex is a registered Master Trainer and Nutritional Advisor with Level 4 qualifications in obesity and diabetes. He is also a strength specialist and a Ni Dan in Shotokan Karate.

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