Hip Hinge to Save Your Back and Improve Your Posture

May is "National Osteoporosis Awareness" month, the perfect time to share a tip on how to safely bend forward without stressing the back. Training yourself in proper body mechanics can help you stay active while avoiding spinal fractures if you have low bone density, osteoporosis or hunched posture, all of which may occur with age or from cancer treatments.

Learn the difference between bending from the waist and hinging from the hip. When you bend forward from the waist, you round the upper back, which puts stress on the spine and can lead to fractures of the vertebrae. In the hip hinge, you bend forward from the hips, keeping your spine straight and your shoulder blades pinched together.

Train yourself to use this movement as you go about your everyday routines: whenever you are bending and turning, lifting and carrying, pushing and pulling (as in vacuuming, sweeping and mopping), coughing and sneezing, even standing at the sink to brush your teeth or wash the dishes! Always bend your knees slightly and then hinge forward from the hip, keeping your spine aligned.

Some exercises can do more harm than good if you have a weakened spine or poor posture. Avoid exercises that involve bending over from the waist, like crunches and sit-ups, and toe-touches in either standing or sitting positions. You may need to modify positions in yoga, Pilates, golf and tennis. Be sure to consult with a therapist for safe movement options if you love these activities.


Joan Pagano

Joan is author of the best-selling book Strength Training for Women and owner of Joan Pagano Fitness in New York City.