Exercise for a strong and stable core

Bird Dog
9/29/2014

Week 2: Bird-Dog Exercise

Building a strong and stable core is crucial for a healthy spine. Last week's blog covered Cat-Cow exercise, the best way to begin moving the spine in a gentle and effective way. This week, add on this simple exercise to start strengthening your spine and core. The Bird-Dog is a foundational exercise for all ages and fitness levels.

  1. Begin on your hands and knees. Separate your hands so they are directly below your shoulders. Place your knees directly below your hips. Your spine should be in a straight, neutral position.
  2. Extend your left arm forward. Keep it in the same line as your spine.
  3. Extend your right leg back, in the same line as your spine as well.
  4. Hold this position, but don't hold your breath! Focus on your breathing as you hold this position for 5 seconds.
  5. Reset and return to Step 1 position.
  6. Opposite leg lifts, opposite arm lifts. You can do it! Right arm extends forward, in line with your spine. And Left leg extends back.
  7. Hold this side for 5 seconds.
  8. Repeat!

Bird Dog

*The amount of time you hold this position and the number of times you repeat both sides will depend on your personal needs and goals.  If you are just beginning, try to do this exercise by just extending one arm out at a time, you will eventually progress to the arm and opposite leg (as shown above). We recommend you start by attempting to hold the position for 5 seconds on each side, and repeat 5 times on each side. If you are unable to hold the position for 5 seconds, then challenge yourself to hold it for 2 seconds. And slowly build your strength over time.

Here is a video of the exercise being performed.  Notice that the instructor explains the beginner's step of extending one arm at a time and keeping your knees grounded. No matter what variation of this exercise you are doing, focus on keeping your hips level (not lifting one hip higher than the other) and breath!

Many of our patients tell us they want to start working out again, but are unsure of where to start. This exercise is a great starting point; it is a safe and highly effective way to begin improving your core strength. Pair it up with the Cat-Cow, and you are on your way to improving the health of your spine, strengthening your core, and preventing low back pain! Next week we will go over the next progression; plank! 

Please comment below if you have any questions. And enjoy this easy and effective exercise; you are on your way to a stronger core and healthy spine!

Be well, friends!

~Dr. Kate and Dr. Steve

Tags: bird dog, fitness, health, Kalamazoo Chiropractors, strength, wellness lifestyle