Bird Dog Exercise

If You Experience Low Back Pain Or Have A History of Low Back Pain, This is A Must Do Exercise!

The bird-dog is an excellent floor exercise that strengthens your core, lower back, buttocks, and thigh muscles. When performed correctly, there is a lot of strengthening going on from your head to your thigh.

One of the best things about this exercise is that you don’t need any equipment as your own body provides the resistance, and you can do it just about anywhere!

The bird-dog exercise is one of my favorite exercises to give for a home exercise program. It’s good for building low back stability, as it engages both the core and back muscles at the same time.

Performing this exercise targets your multifidus and erector spinae muscles. These muscles extend the length of your spine, from the base of your skull to your sacrum at the bottom of your spine. These muscles are extremely important in stabilizing your spine when extending, rotating, and flexing.  Keeping these muscles strong helps to prevent disc herniations and other spine related injuries.

This exercise may also help to reduce low back pain and is regarded as a safe exercise during recovery from a back injury. If you are no longer experiencing acute pain, this exercise can help to prevent re-injury and promote healing.

A strong core and good spinal stability will help you in your everyday tasks especially whenever you need to bend or twist.

This exercise also strengthens your gluteus maximus muscle, or your buttocks, which work when raising and extending your leg. When raising your arms, you also engage the trapezius muscles in your upper back and the deltoid muscles in your shoulder.

Many other muscles get involved when stabilizing this motion, including your hamstrings on the back of your thigh, your gluteus medius and minimus muscles, your piriformis and obturator muscles in your hip, your pectoralis and serratus muscles in your chest, your triceps muscles in your upper arm, and your abdominal and oblique muscles in your abdomen.

So, are your ready to add this exercise into your routine?

Well here are the step-by-step instructions to get you started!

Find a soft surface to kneel on with enough space to extend both an arm and a leg at the same time. An exercise mat is perfect if you have one, but a carpeted area or even a firm bed will work!

  1. Kneel with knees hip-width apart and hands place firmly on the ground about shoulder-width apart. Tighten your abdominals.
  2. Keeping your weight centered, practice lifting one hand and the opposite knee just an inch or two off the floor while balancing on the other hand and knee.
  3. When you feel steady, point one arm out straight in front and extend the opposite leg behind you. You should form a straight line from your hand to your foot, keeping hips squared to the ground. If your back begins to sag or you start to rotate, raise your leg only as high as you can while keeping your back and hips straight.
  4. Hold for 5-10 seconds, then return to both hands and knees.
  5. Switch and perform on the other side.
  6. Keep your abdominals engaged throughout the entire exercise by pulling your belly button to your spine, and work to minimize any motion in your hips during the weight shift.

Try to perform at least 5 strong repetitions on each side for 10 total repetitions.

Try to build this up to a maximum of 3 sets of 10 repetitions.

As you get stronger you can also add light ankle and hand held weights as well as try to perform this while raising your arm and leg on the same side!

When performing this exercise, it’s all about your form!

  • Perform this exercise with slow controlled movements.
  • Be certain to keep your hips and spine straight.
  • If you raise one leg and you twist or tile, don’t raise your leg as high.
  • Don’t allow your chest to sag down, push through your arms so your shoulders are not close to your ears.

While bird-dog can be a difficult exercise at first, you should see lots of improvement as long as you continue to practice.

Having Difficulty?

If you have difficulty performing this exercise, then begin by only extending one leg at a time and not extending your arms.

Once you are able to perform this with good stability, progress to extending the opposite arm at the same time as the leg.

Safety Precautions

You should not perform the bird-dog exercise if you have shoulder pain or if you have had a recent back injury. It is always good to check with your doctor or physical therapist about when this exercise might be beneficial in the event you have had a recent injury or surgery.


The Balance Solutions Team treats hundreds of cases of low back pain every year. With the sudden rise in people working from home and continued computer use, low back pain is a daily complaint in our clinic!

It’s time to act and reduce or eliminate your pain, call (440) 449-3400 to schedule an appointment with one of our skilled physical therapists today.  Balance Solutions Physical Therapy is here to help, offering advanced physical therapy and manual therapy intervention for pain relief.

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Balance Solutions Physical Therapy is located in Beachwood Ohio, just on the outskirt of Cleveland. Services offered include physical therapy, massage, myofascial release, Integrative Dry Needling, as well as Pilates mat and reformer private and class lessons.

Balance Solutions Physical Therapy, Inc located at 23175 Commerce Park, Beachwood Ohio 44122

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