Last newsletter, I provided a core exercise (stability ball deadbug) that I think ‘everyone should be doing.’ This time around, I am once again showcasing a core engagement exercise that is incorporate into all of my client’s programming: the bird dog. Whether they are high-performance athletes, or someone who is sedentary and spends most of their day sitting at a desk, this exercise will help create core stability, which can translate into improved posture (for example, when working at your computer!) or better full-body control for increased strength and power output while training, or competing in sport.
The bird dog often goes hand-in-hand with the deadbug as both exercises emphasize‘bracing’ to create core stability along the length of your spine while incorporating additional movement of one leg and the opposite arm. The major difference between the two exercises is that the deadbug is performed on your back to focus on the anterior core (i.e. abdominals & hipflexors),while the bird dog is performed from your hands and knees to focus on the posterior chain (i.e. back, gluteals, and hamstrings).
Face perpendicular to the wall and place a yoga block (or a folded towel) a few inches away from the wall. Position your hands directly underneath your shoulders with a slight bend in your elbows. Position the knee closest to the wall on the yoga block with your knees directly underneath your hips (think 90 degrees at your hips and knees). Make sure your hip closest to the wall is approximately 1 inch away – you may need to move the block closer or further from the wall to achieve this.
Brace the core before initiating any movement (i.e. imagine someone is going to punch you in the stomach, or cough a couple of times to feel the core slightly tighten – perfect, now maintain that engagement). Keeping the hips square and spine in a balanced and neutral positionthroughout the entire movement, slowly extend the arm closest to the wall in front of you while simultaneously straightening your opposite leg behind you. When you reach the extended position, make a fist with the extended arm, squeeze the quadriceps and gluteals of the extended leg, and isometrically (statically) hold for 10 seconds. The hip closest to the wall should NOT touch! Slowly bring your arm and leg back underneath you, tap the hand to the knee, and immediately return to the extended position for another 10-second count. Perform 10 repetitions on each side (you will have to turn around and face the opposite direction for the other arm and leg). Lastly, imagine a very full glass of water resting on your hips where the goal is to not spill any of the water throughout the entirety of the exercise!