Core Stability: Performing the Bird Dog Exercise

Core stability is a vital component of effective and functional movement.  Your  trunk muscles need to be active and strong in order to support your spine, absorb impact forces, and safely transfer forces through the body when performing compound movements (involving multiple body regions in one movement, e.g., a squat).

At Inspire Fitness, one of our favourite exercises to prescribe for building a strong and stable core is the bird dog exercise (sometimes we call it the four-point kneeling stabilisation exercise, or 4-point arm/leg extension).  Though appearing to be a simple movement pattern, when performed incorrectly, it can place excessive load on the lumbar spine (low back).  Here’s a great video from Mike Robertson of Robertson Training Systems, outlining key movement cues to keep in mind when you are performing the bird dog:

 

If there is one cue that is most important here, it is to engage the stabilising muscles of your lumbar spine correctly! To do this, focus on maintaining a neutral spinal position. Activate your deep core muscles by drawing your belly button (umbilicus) towards your spine, while also engaging your pelvic floor muscles – yes, men, that means you too!  This will engage the deep abdominal muscles that are critical to stabilising the lumbar vertebrae.

The bird dog is an excellent foundational exercise for developing strength and stability throughout your core. This is an exercise we use extensively as part of our corrective exercise programs, to integrate the activation of the lumbar stabiliser with a co-ordinated movement of both the arms and legs.

We’d like to know, what are your favourite exercises for building core stability?

(Image source: Crashfit)

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