How to Do Bird Dog: A Hinge Health Guide

Learn how to do a bird dog to improve core strength and stability, plus modifications to make this exercise easier or harder.

Published Date: Dec 13, 2023

How to Do Bird Dog: A Hinge Health Guide

Learn how to do a bird dog to improve core strength and stability, plus modifications to make this exercise easier or harder.

Published Date: Dec 13, 2023

How to Do Bird Dog: A Hinge Health Guide

Learn how to do a bird dog to improve core strength and stability, plus modifications to make this exercise easier or harder.

Published Date: Dec 13, 2023

How to Do Bird Dog: A Hinge Health Guide

Learn how to do a bird dog to improve core strength and stability, plus modifications to make this exercise easier or harder.

Published Date: Dec 13, 2023
Table of Contents

The Bird Dog exercise is a feel-good, full-body streeeetch that also strengthens your core and improves your balance. (Benefits times three.) This yoga exercise is gentle enough for beginners, but effective for seasoned Sun Salutationers as well. Ready to try it?

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What Is Bird Dog?

Bird Dog is a yoga pose that starts on all fours. Then you lift and extend your opposite arm and leg in line with your back. 

What Muscles Does Bird Dog Work? 

  • Erector spinae are muscles that run along either side of your spine. They’re involved in back extension, rotation, and stabilization. 

  • Rectus abdominis is often called the “six-pack” muscle, even though it’s actually just one sheet of muscle that lies on the front of your belly. It allows you to do things like sit up in bed and bend forward to pick up your grandkid’s Legos. 

  • Transverse abdominis. This muscle lies deep in your core underneath your rectus abdominis. It runs parallel to your pelvis and acts something like a corset, keeping your torso stable and pulled in tight. 

  • Upper back and shoulders, which include muscles such as your trapezius, latissimus dorsi, and deltoids. Strengthening this area can support more comfortable sitting and standing positions.

  • Glutes (gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus). Your butt muscles engage to keep your leg lifted off the floor during this exercise. 

  • Hamstrings. These muscles, on the back of your thighs, are an often overlooked group that can become weak and tight. So strengthening them with moves like Bird Dog can be a big plus. 

Benefits of Bird Dog

  • Better balance and stability. And that’s key because both may reduce the risk of falls and injury. 

  • Stronger core. The core muscles in your abs and back support all kinds of activities — from hiking to paddleboarding to golf — and everyday tasks, such as lifting and carrying objects. 

  • More comfortable posture. The idea that you need to stand or sit up straight at all times is outdated, but there is something to be said for finding positions that feel good to you and don’t contribute to pain. A strong core can help you maintain a comfortable upright position, whether you’re sitting at your desk, or standing in an endless line at the DMV.  

  • Less back pain. Improved core strength — through moves such as Bird Dog — has been to reduce back pain and improve quality of life. 

Bird Dog: Exercises and Modifications 

The information contained in these videos is intended to be used for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice or treatment for any specific condition. Hinge Health is not your healthcare provider and is not responsible for any injury sustained or exacerbated by your use of or participation in these exercises. Please consult with your healthcare provider with any questions you may have about your medical condition or treatment.

Bird Dog

Bird Dog

Bird Dog

Bird Dog

To do Bird Dog:

  • On a yoga mat, get into a comfortable position on your hands and knees, with your hands below your shoulders, and your knees directly under your hips.

  • Lift and extend one leg behind you while you reach your opposite arm off the ground. Your leg and arm should form a straight line with your back. 

  • Look at the floor and imagine balancing a cup of water on your back as you hold this position (this will keep your neck and back in line).

  • Return to the starting position.

  • Repeat on the opposite side, lifting your other arm and leg off the floor. Return to the starting position.

  • As you do each rep, you might feel your core, hip, and arm muscles working.

Everyone is different, which is why you may need to modify this exercise to meet your needs.

Bird Dog Modifications

Bird Dog Modifications

Bird Dog Modifications

Bird Dog Modifications

To make Bird Dog easier:  

  • Start with your hands and knees wider apart to increase your side to side stability.

To make Bird Dog harder: 

  • Narrow the distance between your hands, and/or bring your knees closer together at the start of the exercise to challenge your stability and balance. 

How Hinge Health Can Help You 

If you have joint or muscle pain that makes it hard to move, you can get the relief you’ve been looking for with Hinge Health’s online exercise therapy program. 

The best part: You don’t have to leave your home because our program is digital. That means you can easily get the care you need through our app, when and where it works for you.  

Through our program, you’ll have access to therapeutic exercises and stretches for your condition. Additionally, you’ll have a personal care team to guide, support, and tailor our program to you. 

See if you qualify for Hinge Health and confirm free coverage through your employer or benefit plan here.

This article and its contents are provided for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice or professional services specific to you or your medical condition.

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References

  1. Saper, R. B., et al. (2017). Yoga, Physical Therapy, or Education for Chronic Low Back Pain. Annals of Internal Medicine, vol. 167, no. 2, pp. I–20. doi:10.7326/p17-9039

  2. Gordon, R., and Bloxham S. (2016). A Systematic Review of the Effects of Exercise and Physical Activity on Non-Specific Chronic Low Back Pain. Healthcare, vol. 4, no. 2, p. 22. doi:10.3390/healthcare4020022

  3. Kang, K. Y. (2015). Effects of Core Muscle Stability Training on the Weight Distribution and Stability of the Elderly. Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 27(10), 3163–3165. doi:10.1589/jpts.27.3163