The hip hinge movement pattern applies to compound lower body movements performed in the gym such as squats, deadlifts, and kettlebell swings. However, this movement also applies to something as simple as sitting in a chair. Practicing proper movement in all aspects of life, not just in the gym, is important to prevent injury and keep the body strong. The habits you practice every day are the ones your body remembers.
The goal of the mobility workshop was to begin to develop proper breathing patterns and the hip hinging movement. This may seem like it has nothing to do with mobility, but stability is an often overlooked aspect of mobility. Using the breath to control core and pelvic position during movement creates stability in the body. When the body senses it is stable, it also becomes more mobile. This is because then the body feels stable, it also feels safe. The feeling of safety says to the brain and nervous system that it is ok to let a muscle release tension and move into a greater range of motion. Lack of stability tells the body to increase muscle tone to protect itself. Most of our drills focused on breathing while bracing the abdomen and maintaining pelvic alignment while moving through a series of hip hinging drills. These allow you to create stability within your own body to allow for more mobility and successful functional movement.
Lying on your back in a 90/90 position with feet in a squat stance and toes pointing toward the ceiling. Place one hand on your belly and the other on your chest. Fully inhale through your nose filling the belly with air and making your spine as long as possible. The chest should not rise until you pull the final bit of air into your lungs. Exhale audibly through the mouth, like blowing up a balloon, bringing the ribs down and tightening the lower abdominals. This should be practiced every day! It takes time to break old patterns, especially breathing patterns since we breathe all day, every day. Belly breathing trains the core to reflexively stabilize the spine and pelvis which makes movement under bracing solid and efficient.
This is an extension of the above 90/90 position belly breathing. Following the same pattern of inhaling and exhaling, hold the exhale and tuck you pelvis under like a tiger pulling his tail through his legs. Next, feel as though you are pulling your heels to the floor engaging the hamstrings so much that your hips lift 2 inches off the floor. Once at the top of the position practice breathing without losing your braced position. This drills allows you to train your breathing pattern while maintaining a braced abdominal position.
PVC Pipe Hip Hinge
Beginning with the same braced position as above, lean forward into a hip hinge while maintaining 3 points of contact on the PVC pipe: back of head, mid-back, and sacrum (tailbone). Finding a braced position with the pelvis in neutral allows more room for the hamstrings in the hip hinge motion. The pelvis should be held in a neutral position by the core, however when the core is not engaged, due to poor posture or lack of awareness, the pelvis tips forward. This sends a signal to the brain to keep tension on the hamstrings in an effort to pull the pelvis back to a neutral position and compensate for lack of stability in the core. Using the core to stabilize the pelvis as it is intended, allows the hamstrings to release tension and provides increased range of motion in the hip hinge.
This drill is also a check for neck position. The stability of the neck and low back are related. Therefore, when the neck is in a stable position the low back will also be in a stable position. Keep the eyes moving in an arc in front of you and the chin tucked back enough to give you a slight double chin. Where the eyes move, the body follows. This will allow the neck to stay locked in and help with the braced low back position.
Box/Wall Hip Hinge
This drill is a progression of the hip lift on the floor. Standing with your calves touching a box begin with a breath and brace sequence to set the pelvis and core. Perform a hip hinge by pulling with the hamstrings against the box. The arms may reach in front for counter balance. The hip hinge is an active posterior chain movement. This drill provides a cue to make it easier to feel hamstring engagement during the hip hinge. Since the hamstrings do not have to do the work of the core to keep the pelvis in neutral they may now fire properly to perform the hip hinge movement pattern. Remove the box once you have mastered this drill. Stand with your heels 6-12 inches from the wall and perform the same sequence touching the glutes to the wall for each repetition keeping a braced core and active hamstrings.
Practice makes permanent, so practice well and practice often!
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