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Human Movement Series (Part 1) Hip Hinge-By Michael Hansen, PT, DPT

by ksumner, September 11, 2020

Human Movement Series (Part 1)

            Functional movement training has been the craze lately. Whether you’re a professional athlete, a weekend warrior or just trying to stay in shape to play with you grandchildren, we all need to move. Recently everyone has been preaching “functional” exercises. But what do we exactly mean by functional? Functional can mean a variety of things to different people. Basically it includes any type of movement that you may have to perform during your daily lifestyle. Someone who has a desk job might have very different demands than someone who is a professional golfer. That being said, there are some similarities that we all need to be able to perform safely or else we risk injury. Well we can break up basic human movement in to 6 fundamental type of movements listed below.


  1. Hip Hinge
  2. Squat
  3. Lunge (Single Leg)
  4. Push (Upper Body)
  5. Pull (Upper Body)
  6. Loaded Carry

These 6 movements can be modified, progressed, regressed and combined with other movements to make more complex exercises, but if you are not able to perform these basic 6 exercises then you are putting yourself at risk for injury.

This is the first part in what will be a 7 part series discussing basic fundamental human movement (I’ll add a few extra ones that I like to work on as well) The first foundational movement we are going to discuss is the hip hinge.

The hip hinge might be the most important movement to master in order to reduce your risk for low back pain, SI Joint pain and hip pain. It should be a staple of all lower body workouts as it works multiple muscles at once and requires good core control as well. However, the hip hinge doesn’t always have to be done with heavy barbells like deadlifts; the hinge is something we can use in our daily life- from bending forward at the sink to brushing your teeth, to picking up your child out of their carseat.


One of the biggest compensations that I see, if you are unable to properly hip hinge, is excessive lumbar flexion (rounding of the low back). This can lead to muscle strains, disc herniations, and many other injuries. This excessive rounding of the back can be due to prolonged static posture, especially prolonged sitting. When sitting for long periods of time, most people begin to slouch causing their pelvis to tuck underneath and the low back rounds. Unfortunately, this position teaches people to initiate movements like the hip hinge with their low back and not their pelvis/hip complex.

A great exercise to practice moving your pelvis and not you low back is to perform a supine pelvic tilt. Beginning laying on your back with a stable core, slowly tilt your pelvis forwards and backwards to practice disassociating spine and pelvis motion. Once this becomes easier you can progress to quadruped rocking. This is a great progression to begin training the hip hinge. Maintaining a neutral pelvis, slowly rock back and imagine bending only at the front of your hips while keeping your spine straight.



A good next progression is a standing hip hinge with the assistance of a dowel for external cueing. The dowel should stay in contact with 3 points on your back: your tailbone, between your shoulder blades and back of your head. This helps to maintain a neutral spine and forces you to bend through your hips.


If this exercises is too difficult a good regression is a kneeling hip hinge as seen below. It eliminates any hamstring tightness that may restrict mobility required for the hip hinge motion.


After you have mastered the kneeling hip hinge you can progress to a standing hip hinge progression against a wall.


From here we can progress to weighted hip hinging or conventional deadlifts to build strength.


In our next part we will cover how the deadlift differs from the squat and how you can improve your squatting mechanics to reduce your risk of injury.












My Own Additions:

  1. Anti Rotation
  2. Anti Extension
  3. Anti Flexion


Lumbo-pelvic disassociation

Core stability to prevent excessive flexion or extension of spine