Friday, February 6, 2015

Your Hips Don't Lie...Or Do They?

We'd all like to move our hips like Shakira (or maybe that's just me). One thing I've noticed, though, in many of my clients, is that the cue "hinge at the hips" usually raises confusion. The fact is that many people I've met do not know the difference between bending at the hips and bending at the waist. I am to put an end to this gray area.

Whether you're picking something up from the floor or preparing yourself for a deadlift PR, it's crucial, for the longevity of your spine, to learn how to properly load the hips.

This guy knows how to drop it low.
Take a look at the photo: which one looks safer? If you were going to pick up your dining room table while moving into a new house, what do you think would be the safest and most mechanically optimal way to do so? Which position would allow someone to efficiently deadlift upwards of 500 pounds?

I'm guessing (and hoping) you picked the photo on the left.

The photo on the right will place excessive shear force on your intervertebral disks and prevent you from properly engaging the powerful forces that are the erector spinae, the gluteus maximi and the hamstrings complex.

Look at that hip hinge...
To help clients learn to hinge at the hips, I have them lift up one leg and place a hand in the crease of the hips. Once they've established this placement of the hands, I ask them to keep their hands there and try to bend and squeeze their hand with their hips as they push their butts back towards the wall. This tactile cue allows them to feel how they should load a weighted movement.

You'll know you're hinging at the hips properly when you feel a nice stretch in your hamstrings at the bottom of the movement--this allows us to use that elastic capacity to extend the hips as we stand.

You should lift both a laundry basket and a barbell in the same manner: loading the hips and bracing the core. When used properly, the hip extensors (like the hamstrings and the glutes) can produce an incredible amount of power. When misused, we run the risk of injury and we are limiting the full potential of the posterior chain.

Your glutes are (arguably) the biggest muscles in the body, so why wouldn't you want to take full advantage of them while lifting heavy weight?

If you want to learn to move like Shakira, the first step is to understand how to prime the hips for movement.

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