The Bird Dog Exercise helps improve muscle coordination and balance. This makes it easier to keep the spine stable for running and general everyday movement.
It also helps tone the lower back, upper spine, hamstrings and glutes, while tighter abs also keep the spine supported.
- Begin on all fours with knees under the hips and hip-width apart with the hands flat and shoulder-width apart.
- Next, squeeze the abs by pulling the belly towards the spine.
- Keep the spine in a neutral position without rotating the hips or arching the back.
- Extend the left leg back and the right arm straight ahead.
- Maintain this position for 3 to 4 seconds or as long as possible.
- Do the same with the other arm and leg.
Recommended Number of Sets
The Bird Dog should be repeated 6 to 7 times on each side. To make it more challenging, steadily increase to 10 to 12 counts. For an extra challenge, try adding movement into the mix by slowly lowering and lifting the extended leg and arm a few inches while maintaining proper form throughout the routine.
Common Mistakes and Important Notes
One of the most common mistakes that people make when doing this exercise is letting the belly sag in the middle. This causes the chest to raise, the hips to drop and the head to stick up. Another common mistake is not raising the upper leg high enough.
Using the back muscles is also something to avoid. Not moving in a controlled and smooth way while moving the limbs out is another issue when performing this exercise. Quality over quantity is the vital rule with the Bird Dog exercise.
Do note that it is important for individuals with a medical condition that could be affected by these stretches for runners to speak with a health care professional in advance.