Master the ‘Hinge’ to Unlock your Athletic Potential

We’ve all heard the phrase “it’s all in the hips,” but you may find yourself asking – what does that really mean? Whether running, jumping, throwing, or even while golfing, hip extension is the most powerful human movement in athletics. The hip ‘hinge’ is the key to achieve your full athletic potential. As a preventative medicine center, we take a proactive approach to patient care. Check out the article to understand why hip flex exercises are necessary and some tips to enhance and develop your athletic form.

Why do you need to hinge?

Most fitness programs train hip extension through a combination of hip dominant exercises like squats, deadlifts, hip bridges, and kettlebell swings. Many struggle to perform the proper hinge pattern altogether. If you can’t hinge at the hips properly you’ll reduce the amount of power output you are able to transfer to hip extension. Your faulty movement pattern (usually indicating limited mobility throughout the ankles, hips, and thoracic spine) will also put you at a greater risk of injury.

What does a proper hinge look like?

The hinge is often executed incorrectly and performed as a movement that resembles a squat. In a proper hinge, we move primarily through hips, pushing the glutes back while keeping a neutral spine and the knees slightly bent. When you’re fully hinged, your upper body should be almost parallel to the ground, and you should feel the tension in the hamstrings. In contrast, a squat has a relatively even ratio of the knee and hip flexion. This limits the stretch reflex of the glutes and hamstrings which reduces their contribution to hip extension.

Below, you can see the differences between a squat (left) and a hinge (right):

Image result for hip hinge

Learn how to hinge:

Learn how to master the hinge; Use this simple 3-Point Hip Hinge Guide to make sure your setup and execution are correct. By following the instructions below, you’ll get instant feedback on correct form. Common errors like squatting or rounding your back will make the PVC pipe lose contact with one of the three points. This lets you know whether you’re doing it right or wrong.

hip hinge tips, preventative medicine tips

  • Grab a PVC pipe and hold it vertically behind your back with one hand behind your head and the other behind your lower back.
  • Hold the PVC pipe in a straight line, touching the back of your head, upper back, and the top of your glutes.
  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent.
  • Tighten your abs and glutes and tuck your chin.
  • Slowly push your hips back and lower your chest toward the floor, making sure the PVC pipe stays in contact with the back of your head, mid-back, and glutes.
  • Lower yourself until your torso is near-parallel to the floor or until you can’t keep your back straight. You should feel a stretch in the hamstrings as you lower your torso.
  • Reverse directions by driving your hips forward and squeezing your glutes.

We hope these tips for proper hip extensions and hinge training help build your body. Princeton Longevity Center is a preventative medicine center offering virtual physicals and full-body screening to ensure your body’s optimal performance.

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