Bird dog is one of my all time fav central stability exercises. It’s one of Stuart McGill’s Big 3 and done correctly with awareness, gets into our core, deep neck flexors and extensors, scapular stabilizers, and hip extensions and external rotators. Check out my Youtube video to see an example!
You may notice I am adjusting myself a bit while coming into this. If you have been to one of my workshops, you will hear me say that we should honor our natural curves. I am referring to the spine. Our neck and lower back are lordotic (concave arch) and our mid back has a natural kyphosis (convex arch). We don’t want to flatten the back, we want to stabilize in our natural spinal curves. Sometimes I will put a ball in the little dip in my lower back and work on keeping it there as I do the exercise.
I often get people to lift through the belly using their deep stabilizers (lots of transverse abdominis) and slightly squeeze the glutes to begin to stabilize with their hip external rotators on the supporting leg. Notice, I slide the leg out first. This is to maintain control and then I am working on using my hip extensors to lift the leg (not my lower back).
My gaze is to the floor just in front of me and my chin is in neutral so that I am stabilizing there to. Pushing into the floor from my shoulder blades, I can begin to use scapular stabilizers, then my opposite arm extends forward as I attempt not to tighten my upper traps (pulling my shoulder up towards my ear). The neck should be relaxed.
Any component of this exercise can be done by itself. Simply finding neutral spine is great, especially if you have had lower back pain for a while. The arm or the leg can also be done on their own.
Please note, nothing should hurt when doing this exercise and I am providing this info for educational purposes only. If you have health concerns, please contact your doctor/therapist before taking on a new exercise routine.
Healing through movement