In previous blogs I have talked about the deadlift and its specific areas of faults and problems that could lead to injury. I have also talked about ways to mobilize these areas. But I feel this topic is too important to skip. The hinge is commonly seen in the back during a poorly performed deadlift or a max effort deadlift. Either your back rounds and you grind it out, or you drop the weight in a failed lift.
Hinging is when the back segmentally rounds. This often occurs at the intersections of the spine (L5-S1 or T12-L1). The best way to see where you hinge is to stand in your deadlift position, reach down and try to touch the floor. Often enough you will see your primary hinge, which is due to gravitational pull on the spinal segments and poor mobility at the joint above or below. To test the secondary hinge in the back, it is often necessary to test with weight. Therefore, set up a bar with enough weight (90% of max) so you are able to finish the rep without failing. Meanwhile, while you are doing this rep, have a friend or training partner record the lift.
OK, now you have reviewed the video and figured out where you are hinging in your back.
A lower back (L5-S1) hinge, is often caused by an over activation of the quadriceps muscles and tight hamstrings. These athletes will often notice that their knees lock out early and they try to finish the lift by using their back. Another reason for the hinge is poor mobility in the hips and decreased stability in the low back, which is opposite of the joint by joint approach. As Gray Cook states in the joint by joint approach, “Hip = Mobility, Lumbar Spine = Stability." Therefore if you "Lose hip mobility, you get low back pain”. This reinstates the importance of regaining the proper hip mobility and low back and core stability to fix the hinge.
What a low back (L5-S1) hinge does is cause your pelvis to be pulled down and your lower vertebrae to bare most of the stress and begin to round. This can lead to microtrauma within the ligaments, which can cause instability in your vertebrae. Over time, this can lead to a lumbar disc protrusion or chronic instability.
A mid to lower back (T12-L1) hinge, is often caused by the upper body moving forward then up in the deadlift (see video). The reason for this is either a tight iliopsoas, or poor activation of your lattissimus dorsi, lower trapezius or rhomboid muscles. What this does is cause you to keep a strong low back with proper leg and hip drive, but when you get the weight off the floor you bend your mid back in a fight to finish the rep. This is more commonly seen in sumo lifters, whose goal is to maintain a more upright upper body. If you don’t fix this hinge, you can increase your risks of having a thoracolumbar junction injury which could hinder your training.
BCP – Stay Strong