The Fundamental Movements: Picking Things Up!

The single most important thing you can do for your long-term back health is to learn how to properly pick something up. Hinging appropriately mobilizes your hamstrings, strengthens your glutes, and helps improve your posture.

We tend to use the term “bending over” when we talk about picking things up. Of course, when you think of bending, the first thing that comes to mind is taking something straight and misshaping it. When it comes to picking things up, the straight thing we’re taking about is your spine. It would be better to just remove that phrase from your vocabulary entirely. From now on, think of picking things up as hinging. That way that straight thing—your spine—stays straight.

Hinging is hard to learn but easy to master. The basic idea is simple: push your butt as far back as you can while keeping your feet flat on the ground and your spine neutral. However, if you have been spending too much time sitting, this movement will be anything but simple. If you have trouble reaching the middle of your shin, we’ve got some work to do.

PRACTICE THE HINGE MOTION—For the other movements, I gave you some tricks of the trade that have helped many people build the necessary strength and mobility. When it comes to hinging, the only trick is repetition.

Perform the hinge motion whenever and wherever you have time. The goal is to be able to touch your fingers to just below your mid-shin, while maintaining a flat back and keeping your feet completely on the ground.

How to hinge:

Start with your feet hip width apart. Keep your back flat and imagine you are trying to push your butt straight backward. Slide your hands down your legs and try to reach the middle of your shin. Keep your shins as vertical as possible throughout the entire movement. 

Jake Dermer