December 8, 2021

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How to Do Bird Dog Correctly, According to a Fitness Pro

2 min read

If you haven’t been doing the bird dog exercise, consider this the sign that you should start. It’s an exercise that a variety of experts—like trainers, chiropractors, even a professor emeritus of spine biomechanics—name-check all the time because it does so many good things for your body.

It helps combat lower back pain because it strengthens the muscles around your spine, it promotes full-body mobility and stability, and it’s low-impact, so it’s gentle on your body. Before you get down on all fours and start adding this exercise into your routine, however, it’s important to take the time to learn how to do bird dog properly. Luckily, this episode of The Right Way does just that.

In the episode, Pilates and barre instructor Laurence Agenor, DPT, demonstrates the most common mistakes she sees people make when they attempt bird dog. Then, she walks you through the steps to do it the right way so you can reap all the benefits.

2 common mistakes in bird dog

1. You hyperextend your back as you extend your arms and legs. “This puts more strain onto the lumbar vertebrae, which can cause low back pain,” Agenor says.

2. You hunch your arm up to your ear. She says this causes more neck compression, and you miss out on the length of the bird dog.

To do it the right way (insert Leo pointing meme here), start on all fours and make sure that your shoulders are stacked on top of your wrists, and that your hips are stacked on top of your knees. Then extend one leg back into space and reach the opposite arm forward. Agenor says to remember to think about drawing your bellybutton into your spine, not letting your back arch, and reaching your fingertips toward the opposite side of the room without hunching your arm up toward your shoulder.

To see Agenor’s tips in action, watch the video above.

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