Verbiage can only get you so far. With visual-impairments, tactile cues are the name of the game. We simply learn better that way. We feel the tactile bumps in the curb where we are supposed to cross, and we get accustomed to dodging the worst potholes on our daily route. Learning to feel for the cues which tell us we are doing something right and those which tell us we are doing something wrong is immensely important to everyday life. Let’s go over two drills which will tell you that you are bending over to pick something up the right way. This “hip hinge” pattern will help to keep your spine safe and allow you to better use your hamstrings and glutes.
Drill #1: Hinge to touch wall
Our first drill is a simple hinge back into a wall. Start facing away from a solid wall with your heels about 6 inches from the wall. Stand tall with good posture. Now, push your hips straight back while allowing your shoulders to lean out the front to counterbalance you. Keep your shins vertical and allow the knees to progressively bend as you go. Keep your spine nice and straight throughout this process. Once your glutes make contact with the wall, stomp through the floor and push your hips back to the starting position.
Do not keep your knees locked. As your hips sit back and down, your knees should have an increased bend. Keeping an upright shin will ensure the pressure stays out of your knees and quads. If you feel the pressure in your feet run towards the front of your foot, you will know your knee is running forward as well. This will tuck your hips under you and be more of a squatting pattern, not allowing you to bend over or in this case, reach the wall.
Next, make sure to barely touch the wall. I get a lot of people who fall back into the wall and lean against it, coolly loitering like they are James Dean. Keep in mind that outside this drill, there will be no wall. When performing a Romanian deadlift in the gym or picking something up off the ground, you have to stay balanced. One cue that works well for people is imagining the wall is a curtain. This encourages them to not place all their weight into the wall but instead to barely touch it then return to the top.
To progress this motion, simply work yourself an inch or two further from the wall. You will soon find the limits of your hip hinge before your back rounds. Then, step out into open space and try your hinge with no wall to double check.
This drill is great for your safety as you work to perfect your hinge pattern because if you fall backwards, the wall will catch you and help you to stand upright to try again.
Try multiple sets of 5, moving a tiny bit further from the wall each set and working to get only high-quality reps.
Drill #2: Russian Box Deadlift Hinge
The Russian Box Deadlift involves placing a box behind you so it is pressing against your calves when you are in the standing position. Notice how this gives you an easy tactile cue to maintain a vertical shin. If you lose contact with the box, you are letting your knees come forward. For your purposes, this doesn’t have to be a box at the gym. Try finding a chair or couch at home which can be a good substitute. All we want is for it to be sturdy and not be higher than your knee pit so it doesn’t hold you back from hinging. Make sure whatever you use is study or backed against a wall so it doesn’t scoot away from you.
To perform the box deadlift, start standing tall with your calves making contact with the object you are using (I’ll just say box here on out). Keeping your spine straight, start hinging. As your hips move backwards, your shoulders will come out the front to counterbalance you again. Now when you reach your end range, you will not be feeling for your glutes hitting the wall as in the previous drill. Instead, you will be feeling for your body trying to make a decision between two things: rounding the back or letting your knees run forward. Instead of making that decision, you are going to stomp through the ground up to a strong standing position again.
Try sets of 5 again, using each set to improve your form and feel for this pattern.
Between these two movements, you will get used to the sensations you need to perform a good hip hinge without having to crane your neck and look in a mirror or do video reviews. This hip hinge will better your deadlift in the gym while making you safer and more powerful in the real-world.
If you have any questions, be sure to send us an email or reach out through social media!