A fitness expert shares exercises to strengthen the hip to avoid injuries and become stronger.

Back injuries are common. When they happen, they can really disrupt your work, leisure and fitness. To avoid these injuries, add a few exercises to your regular regimen. Then, you can keep your back strong and ensure it will be there for you when you need to lift that heavy object.

The stiff legged deadlift uses the hip-hinge movement, which is important to preserve as we grow older.

One exercise that can help guard against back injuries from lifting objects is the stiff-legged deadlift.

The stiff-legged deadlift is a strength exercise that uses the hip hinge movement, which is important to preserve as we grow older. It is effective for strengthening the gluteal and hamstring muscles in our legs, but it also trains the hips to move in a hinge movement.

Being able to perform a good hip hinge is important to guard against back injury when lifting objects. Without a proper hip hinge, the low back tends to round while lifting, which can lead to an injury.

Waiter’s Bow

Before using the stiff-legged deadlift as an exercise, practice the hip hinge until you are comfortable with it. This is a key step to successfully using the exercise as a strengthener. An effective way to approach this is to do the waiter’s bow.

Waiter's bow
Waiter’s bow

With one hand on the chest and the other on the low back, feel as though the torso is in locked alignment.

The idea is to keep the spine from moving while motion occurs in the hips, as though being pulled backward from a belt around the waist. The knees should stay slightly bent throughout the movement.

This can be done every day for 10 to 15 repetitions at a time. Once you are proficient with the waiter’s bow, you can move to the stiff-legged deadlift.

Stiff-Legged Deadlift

Doing a stiff-legged deadlift simply means adding resistance.

I like using a kettlebell, but a dumbbell or medicine ball would work, too.

With the weight in your hands, there’s more potential for shoulders rounding forward, so I suggest keeping your chest up and chin tucked. The weight you use should feel challenging without causing you to break proper form.

If you have any concerns about performing the exercise or have a history of back problems, check with your doctor before trying the exercise, especially with weights. It is important that you choose the exercises that will help you grow stronger and build up slowly to more difficult ones.

First step: stiff legged deadlift
First step: stiff legged deadlift
Second step: Stiff legged deadlift

The stiff-legged deadlift follows the general recommendations for strength training, which are to perform 1-to-3 sets of 8-to-12 repetitions for 2-to-3 days per week, on nonconsecutive days.

This exercise compliments other lower body exercises, like squats and lunges, that involve more knee movement.

Avoid Back Injuries

Add stiff-egged deadlifts to your workout to strengthen your hips and preserve your hip-hinge movement.

And you may notice that your back has become less of a pain.

Mike Bento is an advanced trainer at The Clubs at Charles River Park and Massachusetts General Hospital. He holds a master’s degree in human movement and is certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine as a corrective exercise specialist and performance enhancement specialist.