The bird dog is a simple core exercise that improves stability, encourages a neutral spine, and relieves low back pain. It strengthens your core, hips, and back muscles. It also promotes proper posture and increases range of motion.
This exercise is suitable for people of all levels, including seniors, and it can be used to prevent injury, align your spine, and recover from low back pain.
Keep reading to check out the benefits and variations of the bird dog exercise and learn a few additional exercises that target the same muscles.
For this exercise, you’ll need an exercise mat. Place a flat cushion or folded towel under your knees for extra cushioning. You can use a mirror to check your alignment.
- Begin on all fours in the tabletop position.
- Place your knees under your hips and your hands under your shoulders.
- Maintain a neutral spine by engaging your abdominal muscles.
- Draw your shoulder blades together.
- Raise your right arm and left leg, keeping your shoulders and hips parallel to the floor.
- Lengthen the back of your neck and tuck your chin into your chest to gaze down at the floor.
- Hold this position for a few seconds, then lower back down to the starting position.
- Raise your left arm and right leg, holding this position for a few seconds.
- Return to the starting position. This is one round.
- Do 2-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions.
To make sure you’re getting the most benefits from the bird dog exercise, you’ll need to align your body correctly and use the right techniques.
The following tips may seem like a lot to take in when you’re doing this exercise for the first time. Try focusing on a few of these pointers at a time, instead of trying to learn them all at once.
- Keep your hips level and don’t rotate your pelvis.
- Avoid lifting your leg too high or allowing your spine to curve past its natural position.
- Feel a line of energy from your fingertips, all along your body, and out through your toes.
- Keep your spine neutral and engage your core to prevent your back from sagging.
- Don’t allow your chest to sink down toward the floor.
- Draw your shoulder blades back, down, and away from your ears.
- Keep the back of your neck in line with your spine.
- Move slowly and with control.
- Maintain smooth and even breathing.