Vital Force Physio


Want to Move Better and Feel Stronger? Master the Hip Hinge!

June 17, 2021

The deadlift may be the most functional and important lift you can perform. It produces full body muscle activation, increases power production, and makes you feel like a badass! Now deadlifting gets a bad rap for being “bad” for your back. Well, that is only true if you move poorly and have a weak back. I often hear from family, friends, and clients, “I don’t need to deadlift because I don’t want to get hurt,” or “I’m not a bodybuilder.” My response typically sounds like, “so you’ve never lifted anything heavy off the ground or lifted bags of groceries, bags of mulch or picked up your child?” Each of these activities are deadlifts. If any of these movements are painful or overly strenuous then training the deadlift can be an excellent approach to improving your movement patterns, spinal control, and total body strength.

Deadlifts are for everyone but not all types of deadlifts are for everyone, at least not at first. I will dive more into deadlift progressions and variations in the upcoming posts in this series. But first, let’s master the hip hinge.

Hip Hinge 101

If you have never performed a deadlift in the gym the first step is to become familiar with this movement. Grab a dowel rod, golf club, broom stick or anything that resembles these items. Reach one hand to the small of your back and hold the bottom end of the stick. Next, reach to the back of your head with the opposite hand and grab the top end of the stick. The bottom hand should remain in contact with the small of your low back or tailbone. The top hand should rest on the base of your skull.

To initiate the movement, push your hips back first. Imagine sticking your butt out to bump your car door shut or that your hips are the hinge of a door, opening and closing. It is very important that your bottom and top hand remain in contact during this movement.

If the bottom hand lifts, like in the image to the right, you may be rounding your spine.

If the top hand lifts, you may be arching your back or “squatting” the hip hinge. Which is what is happening in the image to the left.

Below is a perfected hinge pattern.

Practice, practice, practice this movement. Video tape yourself or stand next to a mirror from the side. Even frequent gym goers and barbell lifters lose track of their hip hinge pattern from time to time. This can also be a fantastic warm-up prior to barbell, kettle bell, functional fitness training or when performing any heavy lifting from the ground in day to day life!

In conclusion, grab your training stick, perfect your hip hinge, and get ready to lift some real weight in the next part of the series!

Movement is Vital for a Healthy Body and Your Body is a Force to be reckoned with,

Bryan Vranic, PT, DPT, CSCS

Please consult your physician, healthcare provider or physical therapist prior to initiating any new exercise program.

This article is not intended to diagnose or treat any injuries, impairments or diseases. Please contact your Physical Therapist, Physician or qualified Healthcare Provider for more information and before starting any new exercise/rehabilitation program.

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