What Is A Hip Hinge?

The hip hinge is one of the most fundamental movements that needs to be mastered. If you are an olympic lifter or CrossFit athlete and you complete lifts like KB swings, deadlifts, hang cleans, etc., being able to properly hip hinge will not only help your performance, but keep you healthy.

Completing a proper hip hinge means having the ability to hinge at the hips, or flex/bend at the hips, while maintaining a neutral spine. If you are completing the lifts stated above – KB swings, deadlifts, hang cleans – you are moving through the hip hinge pattern.

Common Faults

Now, when you look at a hip hinge, it doesn’t look difficult to complete. However, the volume of olympic lifts and CrossFit athletes that we have worked with, who have been unable to complete this. To make it worse, they are typically loading heavy weight onto the bars and able to push it up! 

To reiterate, hip hinging is the ability to hinge while maintaining a neutral spine. 

Fault #1: Coupling Hip Flexion with Lumbar Flexion

In short, this refers to the inability to move into hip flexion without rounding the low-back. Individuals with this issue often times complain of low-back pain with any type of Olympic lift. It will put them at an increased risk of injury, so mastering the hip hinge is essential in these individuals.

Fault #2: Overextending The Back

If you complete the self-assessment and feel your hand coming off of your low-back, it is because you are overextending the back. This is just as problematic as coupling hip flexion with lumbar flexion and shows that the individual cannot maintain a neutral spine.

Fault #3: Poor Hamstring Flexibility

The last fault we see often times is simply poor hamstring flexibility. This will be screened during our assessment and addressed accordingly.

If you lack hamstring flexibility, you will have difficulty getting into the correct position for a deadlift. The body always makes up for movement somewhere else, so poor hamstring flexibility coupled with Olympic lifting, often times, leads to low-back pain and an inefficient hip hinge.

How To Fix Your Hinge Pattern

Hip Hinge Self-Assessment

  • Quick and easy self-assessment screen
  • Three points of contact: head, thoracic spine (mid-back), SI Joint
  • Lose contact at one, complete below exercises

Forefoot Elevated Toe Touch

  • If you are struggling to achieve a proper hip hinge, this exercise is for you
  • 15 reps at a rate of 1-1-0
  • Visualize being pulled back at the hips while maintaining neutral spine

Tall Kneeling KB Hip Hinge

  • Loads the hinge pattern and helps new mobility “stick”
  • By kneeling, this eliminates hamstring flexibility issues
  • Focus on butt to heels and maintaining a neutral spine

Looking For More Help?

*This is helpful information, but it is general information. This is NOT medical advice. If you already have any injury, pain, tightness, etc., please seek help from a licensed and qualified healthcare provider like us, performance physical therapy in Green Bay. A complete solution for what you’re dealing with needs to be customized to all the different factors driving your pain, and those factors will be at least slightly different for each person. These strategies may help, but they’re not likely to be a complete solution for each individual reading this now or in the future.