The birddog is a mainstay in the physical therapy world. The birddog is also commonly used in pilates, and is becoming more popular in barre style classes. This exercise is super great at core stability, but also is very helpful with hip and shoulder stability. The exercise is performed in the “quadruped” or tabletop position, with opposite extremities lifted. The lifting of opposite extremities also helps initiate a rotational component to your body’s stability, so is great for rotary stability of the upper and lower body. This may sound Greek to you, but this is important- a lot of what we do either in daily life or in sports involves twisting and turning, and often the lower body moving one way, while the upper body moves the other way.
How to perform:
- Start on hands and knees. Make sure your wrists are directly under your shoulders and knees are directly under your hips.
- “Tuck your tailbone” or draw your belly button up towards your spine to ensure adequate core engagement. Make sure your low back remains flat. Never at any point let your low back arch or dip down.
- Lift one leg straight back, squeezing the glut. Ensure that your hip does not rotate up towards the ceiling, OR, let your back arch.
- Lift opposite arm straight overhead.
FORM CHECK: back should be flat! Both hips should point directly to the ground! Core is engaged! Shoulder blade is pulled back towards your spine!
Now the key with birddogs is STABILITY. Which basically means the goal is perfect form, not necessarily getting a “burn” like you may with another exercise. Try to hold one position for 5-10 seconds and then switch sides. If you need to make this harder, try holding onto hand weights. If you are at a gym, you can use a BOSU under a knee.