Hip hinging is a vital movement necessary in many everyday tasks and all of athletics. And, teaching the hips to disassociate and move separately from the lower back can reduce the likelihood of back injury significantly.
Many people, when asked to extend the hip, also extend and arch the lumbar spine because they aren’t competent in this movement. But, the biggest issue is that standing upright and performing exercises like the deadlift, straight leg deadlift, and single leg variations, may be too difficult of a starting point. That is when the side bridge comes into play and proves to be valuable!
The side bridge is a very important, but under utilized, hip hinge variation. By starting on the ground in the sidelying position, we eliminate gravity resisting hip extension and forcing the spine into a rounded posture. Now, we can focus on contracting the gluteus maximus and controlling motion through the hips, not the lumbar spine. After learning this exercise we can progress to the standing hip hinge variations where we then add resistance and strengthen those muscles.
Here’s how to perform the exercise:
- Lay in the sidelying position with the knees bent and ankles, hips, and spine aligned
- Put the forearm on the ground and push the upper body away from the floor
- Now, that you are in the correct starting position, raise the hips slightly and drive them forward by engaging the gluteus maximus
- At the mid point of the exercise, the knees, hips, and spine are aligned while the hips are raised up
- Then, return the hips backwards and lower back to the ground
- Complete for the desired repetitions
Note: The spine never changes its position as the hips are the only joints that move.
By: Garrett McLaughlin, MS, ATC, CSCS, ART