Bird Dog Exercise (4-point to 2-point Kneeling Spinal Stability Exercise)

Posted on 30 Jan 2012 21:30

The bird dog exercises are a group of core exercises peformed in a quadruped position. The purpose of these movements are to strengthen the core muscles and promote the maintenance of a neutral pelvis while encorportating limb movements, along with exercise tracks such as the dead bug track. When used as part of a rehabilitation program for lumbar injury or other spine problems, this stabilization exercise progresses from a beginner to an advanced level, starting with moving only one arm, and then progressing to moving the opposite arm and leg. This is basically moving from 4-point kneeling, to 3-point kneeling, and then to 2-point.

This article describes the "advanced" version, which uses simultaneous arm and leg movement. This can be used in a non-rehab setting for those wishing to use this exercise as part of a dynamic warmup routine. A neutral spine must be maintained throughout the performance of the exercise and the hips must not be allowed to roll (lower or raise).

For more information see McGill's Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance and Therapeutic Exercise for Musculoskeletal Injuries by Peggy Houglum.


Pelvic and spine stability, glute activation


1. Get into a quadruped position (4-point kneeling) with a neutral spine/pelvis. The lower back should be held in its natural arch.

2. Contract your abdominal muscles and simultaneously raise your right arm and your left leg and push them both away from you as shown in the video below. Pause for several seconds and repeat or pause for a count and perform several repetitions.

3. Repeat the same pattern except use your left arm and your right leg and push them both away from you.

4. The leg movement should be done by contracting the glutes and hamstrings respectively. There should absolutely no shift in the position of the pelvis, lower back, or spine in general. The shoulders and hips should remain parallel with the floor throughout.

5. If you are unable to do this advanced version, you can start by only raising one arm at a time. Then you can move on to raising one leg at a time. After both these movements have been mastered without any compensatory movement of the pelvis or lower back, move on to moving one arm and one leg, as described above (2-point kneeling).

6. If you cannot perform this movement at all while keeping a neutral pelvis you may need to consult a professional about a more basic stabilization program.

Bird Dog Exercise (Advanced) Video


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