The Hip Hinge – The key to maximising performance and minimising lower back pain

Have you heard of the hip hinge? If you haven’t you should have! The hip hinge is one of the most fundamental human movements, and should be perfected by everyone to maximise their lower back health and performance.

What is the Hip Hinge?

A hip hinge is the act of bending at your hips, with minimal bending of your knees whilst keeping you back straight. You should be able to push your hips back to about a 90-degree hip bend, without any rounding of your lower back. If you can’t do this you could definitely benefit from learning how to hip hinge properly.

In the gym, a proper hip hinge is a crucial factor in performing several lifts, such as the deadlift or kettlebell swing, properly. In, everyday life, the ability to hinge properly can help keep your lower back and hips healthy and pain-free.

What if I can’t hinge?

If you can’t hinge properly, then start learning! As I said earlier, the hinge is a fundamental human movement and will improve your performance and lower back/hip health both inside and outside of the gym. A good hip hinge helps load up the powerful glute and hamstring muscles how they are meant to, which means you’ll be able to lift more weight! Read on for some hip hinge drills and progressions to help you get started.

The Broomstick Drill

Broomstick Hip Hinge Incorrect End Position
Broomstick Hip Hinge Incorrect End Position

This is a great drill to start learning the hip hinge pattern in a safe, unloaded environment. Think about pushing your butt back and feeling your weight on your heels. Your knees should have only a slight bend in them, this is not a squat! This is a drill that can be performed daily to help hone the pattern.

1. Grab a broomstick and hold it on your back. It should touch your head, upper back and butt
2. Push your hips back and try and keep the broomstick in touch with all 3 points
3. If your round your lower back you will feel the broomstick start to come off

The Banded Hip Hinge

Banded Hip Hinge 1
Banded Hip Hinge 2
Banded Hip Hinge 3
Banded Hip Hinge 4

This is a great drill if you are finding it hard to think about pushing your butt back without squatting. This is a great drill as the band tension forces you to push your hips back, and also adds some gentle resistance. You will need a power band a sturdy pole/power rack for this drill.

1. Set up the powerband around the pole and loop it around your hips
2. Take a few steps outwards until you feel some tension on the band
3. Keeping a flat back, let the band tension pull your hips back towards the pole
4. When you feel you are at your maximum range, squeeze your glutes and straighten
back up

*add a broomstick on your back and incorporate both these drills if you are still having a hard time. Everyone is individual and one drill might not work for everyone!

Cable Pull Throughs

Banded Cable Pull Through Exercise 1
Banded Cable Pull Through Exercise 2

Once you have mastered the proper pattern, it is time to load it! The glutes and hamstrings are some of the biggest muscles in the body, so they respond extremely well to being loaded. The first progression is the cable or banded pull through. This allows us to add more weight, whilst still helping groove the pattern due to the nature of where the weight is.

1. Set up a cable machine on the lowest setting with the rope attachment
2. Facing away from the stack, grab the rope through your legs and take a few steps away
3. Holding the ropes between your legs, hinge at your hips and let the weight pull you back onto your hips
4. When at the end, squeeze your glutes and straighten back up, keeping the rope held between your legs

The Romanian Deadlift (RDL)

Romanian Deadlift Rdl Exercise 1
Romanian Deadlift Rdl Exercise 2

The biggest and best exercise to strengthen the hip hinge is the Romanian deadlift, or RDL for short. This is effectively the top half of a traditional deadlift, and is the absolute gold standard for strengthen the hip hinge pattern. If you do a few sets of heavy RDL’s properly you will know, as you will have sore hamstrings and glutes for days afterwards! Only move onto this exercise when you feel you have mastered the hip hinge pattern unloaded or with low loads in the cable pull through.

1. Set up a barbell in the power rack just below hip height
2. Starting from the top of the movement, push your hips back into a hinge pattern and slide the barbell down your thighs
3. When you’re at your end of range, squeeze your glutes and finish tall. The bar should never stray too far away from touching your legs.

Give those progressions a try and learn to master the hinge! Your body will thank you for it! As always, feel free to get in touch with our sports physios or sports technique analysts if you have any questions and we are more than happy to help.

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Mana NankivellMana Nankivell
00:38 18 Apr 23
I highly recommend Trent and the Physio Fit team.I sustained a knee injury (fat pad impingement) in a half-marathon around 18 months ago, and after 12 months of seeing a (different) physio and sports doctors without any improvement, I was told by the doctor that I would "probably just have to put up with the pain".I booked in with the team at Physio Fit for another opinion, and it was the best decision I ever made. Trent put together a very manageable rehab plan for me and was quick to respond and adapt when something didn't work out. In the past 6 months, I've gone from not being able to walk without pain or even think about hiking, running or cycling without my knee flaring up, to running my first post-injury 5.5km trail run and hiking 10km with a 10kg pack!
Laura O'ConnorLaura O'Connor
08:47 05 Feb 23
This clinic is the pinnacle of physiotherapy in Adelaide. Ive seen a couple of different physios at physiofit over the years for different injuries and the experience has been absolutely amazing each time! Highly recommend seeing the team here for all your physio needs!
Ryen ArcherRyen Archer
02:50 03 Feb 23
Corey is absolutely fantastic, worked out my issues and we have been working to improve them for a few months now and all I can say is I am feeling a million times better! thanks physio fit! Keep up the great work!
Amy SzyndlerAmy Szyndler
02:44 03 Feb 23
I attended Physio Fit to get my tennis elbow treated. Always a friendly greeting from the lovely reception staff, and my physio, Corey, was fantastic; very friendly, knowledgeable and provided treatment that was personalised and holistic. Following Corey's advice and exercise regime helped me get back to the activities I enjoy, pain-free. Highly recommended.
Debbie MossDebbie Moss
07:21 02 Feb 23
Have been taking my daughter here for quite a few months now for ongoing back issues. The care that she has been given through her Physiotherapist Corey, has been fantastic. Everything has been explained and if exercises have needed to be modified he has. Would thoroughly recommend this place for any Physio needs. All staff that we have dealt with have been friendly and professional. A great team and environment.
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