Have you ever made the slightest movement and suddenly tweaked your back? If this sounds familiar, you are definitely not alone.
According to one study, 84% of people (that’s about 8 in 10) will have or have had some kind of back pain. This number may feel discouraging, but a majority of back pain is preventable. The source of your back pain is likely related to your posture and how you move through your daily activities. Making adjustments to the way you move can go a long way.
Understanding the anatomy of the spine, muscles of the spine, and how the spine moves will help reduce your chances of tweaking your back. The simple task of bending over to pick something up can hurt your back if you perform the motion incorrectly. Learning a simple movement pattern called a hip hinge can prevent back pain.
Movements such as bending over to pick up an object or going to sit in a chair should begin with the hips, not the knees or back. Before you start to perform this simple, yet functional movement, you have to know what it feels like to perform it properly.
Let’s practice by doing a 3-point hip hinge exercise with a long pole. This will help you experience what a proper hip hinge should feel like and help your body get used to moving this way.
Hip Hinge Exercise
Grab a pole behind your back so the back of your head, your upper back, and your butt are in contact with the pole.
In this position, bend, or hinge forward making sure the pole is in continuous contact at all 3 points- the back of the head, upper back, and butt.
Do this for 3 sets of 15. Remember, practice makes perfect. Soon you will do this automatically when bending over.
After you’ve got the hip hinge down and are able to perform it without the pole, it’s time to strengthen the muscles involved with this movement. An excellent exercise for strengthening the muscles is called a Good Morning.
Good Morning Exercise
To do this exercise, stand with feet parallel to each other, shoulder width apart, slack in the knees, and weight through the heels.
Keep your back flat and hinge from the hips, bringing your torso towards the floor and then returning back to the starting position. Looks similar to the 3-point hip hinge, right?
Learning how to hinge from the hips and not use your back to bend over or squat can greatly help reduce the chances of back pain and maintain long-term health of your spine.