Thursday, September 4, 2008

My take on Hip Hinging

I can see the rotten tomatoes being flung at me now, but just read this entire post before you begin your wind up.
Hip hinging is the process of disassociating iliofemoral flexion/extension from lumbopelvic flexion/extension. It is learned through exercises such as "the waiter's bow". I realize Shirley Sahrmann & Stuart McGill are proponents. But-you need to remember I work with the adolescent population and I'm not sure this is a skill that requires specialized training.
To me, hip hinging is a natural process. I can recall watching my 2 year old nephew and niece attempting to lift up my 7lb. med balls. They lifted it with body mechanics that a weight lifting coach would be proud of- and they were never taught of course. The body subconsciously chose a hip/knee dominant strategy. Hip hinging to me is a natural phenomenon. When you see otherwise, go look for the link that's out of sync. Think...what would make the body choose an erector spinae dominant strategy? For starters, lack of dorsiflexion at the ankle. Yes, even with straight legs, the talus must glide posteriorly for a hip hinge to take place. How about a sore knee from Osgood-Schlatter's disease? How about a tight posterior hip capsule & a weak butt (you'll see this a lot).
I realize in certain weight room tasks, the hip hinge must be taught. Learning a Romanian Dead Lift comes to mind. I also understand in certain populations, this strategy might be used to protect a prolapsed disk. Or, used in the situation where a LE joint is severely arthritic as a technique to protect the lumbar spine.
Finally, let me end with this study from '99 by Granata et al. They studied a group of veteran city sanitation workers and compared their lifting techniques with inexperienced lifters. The conclusion? The experienced lifters chose a multitude of lifting strategies to get from point A to B. There was no one right way. The inexperienced lifters however, showed very little variability in their technique. The authors concluded the experienced lifters demonstrated "motor control flexibility". Bingo.
Let me go change my shirt.


Dan Hubbard, M.Ed., CSCS. said...


I see your arguement, but I don't think the Granata et al study provides strong support for the main arguement (spinal flex/ext vs. hip flex/ext) for long-term spine health. I will say that I only had the opportunity to review the abstract. The experienced lifters may have demonstrated more variability, but they may have greater torso strength (from all their experience). Also, they only had to make 10 lifts and the median load was lower than recommended limits. We know nothing about the long-term fate of the experienced lifters spines. A longitudinal study would be nice to see if the variability is biomechanics had any long-term effects.

Joe Przytula said...

Thanks for reading the article, and the reply Dan. Remember though, I'm on your side. I agree hip flex/ext over spine " " is important for spine health. The question is if it needs to be taught as a skill in the adolescent athlete. In your case, working with weight lifters, the answer would be a resounding yes.

Dan Hubbard, M.Ed., CSCS. said...

I feel I need to teach it to most people, especially athletes who are not very mobile in their hips (ex high school hockey goalie). I am very surprised how awkward it is for many, even without loading the spine. Just goes to show, you don't know until you put the athletes through a basic movement assessment.