Did you know that when you bend over at the waist to touch your toes — you can still do that, right — it’s called a hip hinge movement. The hinge movement can be your body’s friend. Done correctly, it will make you and your back stronger and help you move more gracefully and with more purpose.
What you don’t want to do is arch your back or go in the opposite direction and round it up too much. That’s my strength coach Andy Wight demonstrating the wrong way. He’s been my personal trainer for two years now and I can’t imagine life without him! The workouts I do twice a week, plus walking every day, not only keep my body strong and balanced, they help my brain and disposition, too.
The important thing to remember when you bend is to keep your spine in a neutral position. Here’s a short video of Andy demonstrating an exercise you can do at home to practice and strengthen your hip hinge.
You can challenge yourself a bit further by doing a single leg hinge. You balance on one leg as you do the hip hinge. Andy makes me do it all the time. “It’s a little bit more challenging than the move I demonstrated,” he told me, “but I like it because it works on the hip hinge and it also works on balance.”
And because we’re apt to lose some of that hip hinge movement as well as our balance as we age, it helps to work on both. In this video, I demonstrate the single leg hinge. I may not have the best form, but at least I didn’t crash into the brick wall. It happens sometimes!
Whether you’re an athlete or just want to be in the best shape possible, mastering the hip hinge is a good thing.