Study: When is bending too much?

Alessa 2017

How long is too long, to be in a forward, bent posture? Many of us spend hours doing house chores; weeding, DIY, working on the car etc. Not to mention the time spent leaning over a computer desk or looking down at your phone.

Back pain

Your muscles play an amazing role of suspending us in these positions, but just like with exercise our muscles will reach a point of fatigue. When the postural muscles aren’t able to provide the support we then rely on “passive” structures like ligaments and fascia, which is not their primary role, eventually leading stress and increased risk of injury.

This study looked at 2 angles of the spine leaning forwards and found that within 40 seconds the participants transitioned from the support of postural muscles to the passive structures. While this was found to be a natural transition the prolonged strain on the passive structures has been shown to increase the risk of lower back pain as suggested in another study.

As mentioned in a previous blog, these positions are not “wrong” but it’s better for the overall health of the spine to regularly change position and break from sustained load on an individual structure to provide balance.


Static trunk bending is an occupational risk factor for lower back pain (LBP). When assessing relative short duration trunk bending tasks, existing studies mostly assumed unchanged spine biomechanical responses during task performance. The purpose of the current study was to assess the biomechanical changes of lumbar spine during the performance of relatively short duration, sustained trunk bending tasks. Fifteen participants performed 40-s static trunk bending tasks in two different trunk angles (30° or 60°) with two different hand load levels (0 or 6.8 kg). Results of the current study revealed significantly increased lumbar flexion and lumbar passive moment during the 40 s of trunk bending. Significantly reduced lumbar and abdominal muscle activities were also observed in most conditions. These findings suggest that, during the performance of short duration, static trunk bending tasks, a shift of loading from lumbar active tissues to passive tissues occurs naturally. This mechanism is beneficial in reducing the accumulation of lumbar muscle fatigue; however, lumbar passive tissue creep could be introduced due to prolonged or repetitive exposure.


Alessaa F. et al (2017) Changes of lumbar posture and tissue loading during static trunk bending. Human Movement Science

Read moreStudy: When is bending too much?

Lunge Hip Mobility

This is the second part of the hip series. These hip shapes are positions that we should all be striving for to have confidence and feel safe to function if exposed to complex positions. 

Following on from the blog hip opener for the hinge shape is our next hip position we should try to achieve. The lunge shape is full extension and internal rotation of the hip with the knee positioned behind the hip and foot pointing forwards. This shape is most seen in lifters doing split jerks, kicking a football, ball throwing. But most commonly seeing this lack of range with runners, not utilising the full hip extension in the push off at the end of stance phase.

Over the years adaptive changes happen either through injury or more with positions we adhere to. The most common being sitting, which results in anterior structures of the hip becoming limited. Lacking the end range of this movement could mean we’re selling our self short of momentum, power or endurance.


Using the picture of long distance runner Mo Farah, he demonstrates a great lunge shape at the hip. While maintaining a neutral spine he manages to reach full hip extension and toes are pointed forwards, maintaining the internal rotation of the hip. Lacking hip extension can compromise running form of the upper limb and spine. But as you can see he reaches a good press shape of the opposite shoulder in the arm swing making his running style extremely efficient and balanced.

Below are a series of stretches and mobility exercises to help improve your lunge shape.

Couch stretch

If hip flexors are tight this is one of the best stretches for improving length back. A long sustained hold of this stretch with full diaphragmatic breathing over 2 minutes is extremely effective.

COUCH STRETCH ❌ There are few better exercises to open the hip flexors than the couch stretch. It's not everyone's favourite but it's effective. ❌Take one leg up the wall or box so your shin is resting on it and the knee is on the floor. If you don't already feel the quads stretch. Take the opposite foot through. While keeping the abdominals and gluteus tight, gently push the hip forwards. Hold this stretch for up to 2 minutes. #fundamentalPhysio #physio #physiotherapist #physiotherapy #crossfitnewmarket #crossfit #gym #fitness #squat #hiphinge #lunges #auckland #newmarketnz #mobility #mobilitywod #flexiblehips #strongerhips #injuryprevention #athelete #rehab #sprints #boxjumps #football #basketball #hipflexors #running

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Illiopsoas Trigger Point Release

This muscle sits within the abdominal cavity and if tight it will feel sore with pressure through the abdominal wall towards the muscle. At first the pain can be quite high but relaxing into the pressure overtime the pain subsides and will feel looser once released. Aim for 1-2 minutes hold.

Hip flexor stretch (with band)

Another hip flexor stretch with a joint mobilisation using a band. Position the knee behind the hip. Allow the band to pull the hip forwards, contract the glutes to get the best anterior hip stretch.

Quads and inner thigh release with LaX ball

A lacrosse ball is a great tool for isolating sections of tight muscle. Rolling on the ball like you would a foam roller will be more effective, if tolerated. Then opening up inner thigh/hip adductors using the kettle bell handle. The knee flexion/extension stretches the muscle through range while being tacked down.

Suspended split stretch

This is for the more adventurous. It will help your lunge go deeper while increase stretch through the hamstrings. Throughout this movement, it is important to keep the glutes switched on to avoid hanging of the hip capsules. Spend around a minute each direction.

Read moreLunge Hip Mobility

Hip Opener for Hinge Shapes

Many lifting injuries result from a lack of movement awareness and weakness of the posterior muscles. The hip hinge is a foundational movement for so many actions like deadlifts, squats, sprinting, jumping. Lacking an effective hip hinge is like racing a formula 1 car on flat tyres.

Developing a good hip hinge will improve the strength of the posterior chain. This includes muscles like the glutes, hamstrings and back extensors. The hinge movement is primarily coming from the hip. The goal is to maintain a neutral spine throughout the movement, the hips start to bend with your butt moving backwards and minimal flexion in the knee. This will increase the tension on the hamstrings and glutes.

The majority of people find this pattern of movement unnatural, as it’s rarely practiced and in most cases, are quad dominant. This quad dominant pattern causes weight to be distributed anteriorly, which is fine with some activities, but most actions we need to be more engaged with our posterior chain.

hip hinge movements.jpg


Below are a series of stretches and strengthening exercises to help Improve your hip hinging abilities.

Weighted Hip Hinge

This exercises is a great way to warm up and encourage the hip back movement while fighting the resistance to maintain a neutral spine.

WEIGHTED HIP HINGE ❌ Practising your hip hinge, can be difficult to maintain position through range. Using a weight on the mid back can encourage more activity from your back extensors. This is a good war up technique if you've programmed some deadlifts or back squats ❌ Place the weight on your mid back. While maintaining the neutral spine, take your hips back, build up tension in the hamstrings, then bend your knee. Keep the knee track over your ankles. Repeat this movement over 10reps 2-3sets. #fundamentalPhysio #physio #physiotherapist #physiotherapy #crossfitnewmarket #crossfit #gym #fitness #squat #hiphinge #auckland #newmarketnz #mobility #mobilitywod #flexiblehips #strongerhips #injuryprevention #athelete #rehab #deadlifts #sprints #boxjumps #stronghamstrings

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Banded Hip Distractions

These two movements are also great for warming up. Both encourage release of the hamstrings but also the band provides a traction force on the hip socket. This should allow the joint to move free’er and help you access more range in the joint.

BANDED HIP DISTRACTION❌ Using a resistance band to distract the hip from its socket is a great mobility technique to do before training. Helping you access more range in the joint without risking impingment ❌ This will help with your hip hinge making deadlifts and squats feel easier ❌ With the band up in your hip crease and pulling from behind. Go onto your hands and knees, find your neutral spine. Maintain the spinal position while moving your hips backwards and then forwards. Repeat this movement on each leg for 1-2 minutes. #fundamentalPhysio #physio #physiotherapist #physiotherapy #crossfitnewmarket #crossfit #gym #fitness #squat #hiphinge #auckland #newmarketnz #mobility #mobilitywod #flexiblehips #strongerhips #injuryprevention #athelete #rehab #deadlifts #sprints #boxjumps

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Banded Hip Hinge ❌ Achieving a good hip hinge with help you out in so many activities. It's particularly important for lifting activities and minimising stress to the spine ❌ Using the band is a great way of assisting the movement, as well as providing a capsule distraction on the hip joint. Allowing you to access greater ranges within the joint safely ❌ For this movement, get the band up close into the groin, with the same leg step out in front. Maintain a neutral spine and bend forwards to wind up the tension on the hamstring. From this point gently straighten and bend the knee to give you hamstrings a stretch. Repeat the process 1-2 minutes on each leg ❌ This is a particularly good movement to do before training. #fundamentalPhysio #physio #physiotherapist #physiotherapy #crossfitnewmarket #crossfit #gym #fitness #squat #hiphinge #auckland #newmarketnz #mobility #mobilitywod #flexiblehips #strongerhips #injuryprevention #athelete #rehab #deadlifts #sprints #boxjumps

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Dynamic Hamstring stretch

This is a deeper stretch of the hamstrings. Having more flexibility here will help you hinge better at the hip which will off load the knees.

SPLIT HAMSTRING STRETCH ❌ The dynamic stretch works deep into the hamstrings. Providing more range for the muscle will help you with a stronger hip hinge, which will improve performance with so many activities, not just for lifting ❌Close to a wall go into this split position, try to get your heel close to the wall. The loop your arm under the front leg and hold the opposite forearm. Now contract your quads and push against the arm underneath. Repeat this hold-relax for 1-2 minutes. #fundamentalPhysio #physio #physiotherapist #physiotherapy #crossfitnewmarket #crossfit #gym #fitness #squat #hiphinge #auckland #newmarketnz #mobility #mobilitywod #flexiblehips #strongerhips #injuryprevention #athelete #rehab #deadlifts #sprints #boxjumps #football #basketball #hamstrings

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Jefferson Curl

This movement is a great way of developing movement segmentally and will help build strength when maintaining a stable spine. It’s important to note if you have a spinal injury to avoid this movement until you have gone through the appropriate phases of rehab.

JEFFERSON CURL ❌ with this movement it breaks the tradition of holding a rigid neutral spine. It teaches you moving the spine sequentially under control. This will help improve the strength of those static nutral positions, like when doing the hip hinge ❌ Standing on a block, hold the kettlebell. From your neck down begin to CURL, eventually bending at the hips, keep the knees straight. You will feel the hamstrings stretch. At the bottom breath out and relax into the stretch more. Then again breath in and then start straightening through the hips, then stacking the segments of the spine until you ware standing straight again. Repeat 5-6 times 2-3 sets ❌ This one comes with a prepackaged warning, anyone with a back injury should avoid this. Anyone with back injury history should approach it carefully. #fundamentalPhysio #physio #physiotherapist #physiotherapy #crossfitnewmarket #crossfit #gym #fitness #squat #hiphinge #auckland #newmarketnz #mobility #mobilitywod #flexiblehips #strongerhips #injuryprevention #athelete #rehab #deadlifts #sprints #boxjumps

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Read moreHip Opener for Hinge Shapes

The Office WOD

The office WOD

Do your best when no one is looking. If you do that, then you can be successful at anything that you put your mind to. Following up from last weeks piece about SITTING POSTURE. It’s not about holding the perfect posture. Whats more important is changing position regularly, adding variation. Holding postures long enough results in …

Read moreThe Office WOD