Monday, October 21, 2019

Back Strengthening – Bird Dog

April 9, 2016 by  
Filed under Coaching, Fitness & Health

Whenever I hear that someone has occasional back pain, I think of this exercise.  It’s a great back strengthener and is an excellent foundation helping people get ready for more strenuous exercises like planks.

Benefits:

  • Function:    Diagonal patterning, getting up and down from floor, Shoulder ROM (range of motion)
  • Balance:      Core work
  • Strength:     Back, core as well as weight bearing for the arms
  • Flexibility:   Elongating each arm and leg away from the body helps create length and stretches the muscles

The Set up – Start On All 4’s

  • Hands directly under shoulders, fingers spread
  • Notice that all 4 points of contact feel even
  • Engage your shoulder blades down away from your ears; keep your arms straight throughout the entire sequence.
  • Your head should remain neutral (this is best for your neck and means that you’ll be looking either down or just slightly in front of you).
  • This starting position is your neutral or reset that you honor in between each and every part of the movement.

Part 1 – The Form

The purpose of this initial movement is to establish optimal form in each reaching arm and leg.  Do this initial sequence each time you do bird dog.   Just one set activates the muscles and sets the stage for a better bird dog.

  • Extend L arm straight overhead/forward
  • Point Thumb up and reach thru your fingertips
  • Try to keep the remaining 3 points of contact (R arm and both knees/lower legs) evenly balanced
  • Hold for 3 breaths as you lengthen your arm
  • Notice how far your upper arm is from your ear
  • Slowly lower your arm back to the even 4 point contact
  • Take 1 to 2 breaths as you notice how the both arms and shoulders feel

Any time you need a break, lower to your forearms into Puppy Play or sit back into Child’s Pose

  • Repeat with R arm
  • (note: each time you do this notice which arm and leg you start with and make sure to alternate so you’re not always starting with the same arm/leg)
  • Extend L Leg straight out behind you
  • Try to keep your hips even
  • Flex your foot and push thru your heel (strongly flexing the foot facilitates a lower leg/Achilles and calf stretch and engages/strengthens the shin/tibialis anterior muscles
  • “Activating” the leg engages hip and leg muscles
  • Hold for 3 relaxed breaths
  • Notice the remaining 3 points of contact (both arms and other leg) and try to keep them evenly balanced
  • Slowly lower your leg back to All 4’s.
    Take 1 to 2 breaths as you notice how the both arms and shoulders feel
  • Repeat with R Leg

Part 2 – The Sweep

  • Gently sweep your L arm and R leg out at the same time until you reach the end point you had in Part 1
  • Once you reach the end point – the longest length from your fingertips to your heel, slowly lower the arm and leg back down
  • Repeat other side
  • Do this sweeping movement twice on each side
  • Remember to rest in between movements and only move on to the next Part when you’re ready for additional challenge.

Part 3 – The Hold

  • Extend opposite arm and leg out, reaching the fingers overhead and straightening the leg, pushing thru the heel, as in Part 2,
  • Hold for 1 to 2 breaths
  • Slowly lower
  • Repeat other side
  • Do each side 3 times

As this gets easier hold for 3, then 5 breaths, then 8 – up to 10 to 15 long, relaxed breaths (approximately 1 minute)

 

Comments

One Response to “Back Strengthening – Bird Dog”
  1. Sharon says:

    Hi Jayah. Thanks for suggestions for back exercises. I have just been through a long recovery process from spraining my lower back. I will add these to “my list.”

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