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Use your hips! (Not your back)


How many times do you bend forward throughout your day to reach for or pick something up? Probably several. Of those several times, how many times are you actually using your hips and not your back? How you do you know the difference? More often than not adults will bend forward with little to no use of their hips, glutes, or hamstrings. This is not how we were designed to move. Efficient forward bending initiates from sending the hips back. Want a good example? Watch a child grab an object on the floor in front of them..they will hinge at the hips and get into a deep squat. They use their hips. This places far less stress upon their lumbar spine.

 

So what happens between being a child and adult that alters the biomechanics of our movements? We get lazy. We are stuck in desk jobs, don’t exercise or stretch, and our bodies simply forget how they are designed to move. It simply becomes easier to bend at the waist and not have to utilize those extra hip muscles. Our brains like the idea of doing as little work as possible, so overtime these movement patterns become our norm.

 

How do we fix this inefficient movement pattern? It starts with awareness. We must be aware that this pattern is happening and more importantly when it is happening.  The second step is to retrain the body how to flex forward. This can be accomplished through an exercise called the Hip Hinge**. The hip hinge exercise works to maintain a neutral lumbar spine while flexing forward. This can only be accomplished if the motion is coming from the hips and not the low back. See examples below.

Efficient forward flexion keeping a neutral lumbar spine

Efficient forward flexion keeping a neutral lumbar spine

Loss of neutral lumbar spine

Loss of neutral lumbar spine (not using hips)

  **This exercise should only be done under proper supervision to ensure correct form is being done.