A Misunderstood Movement: The Bird-Dog
Updated: Nov 25, 2020
In my experience, this is often a highly misunderstood movement. Because it looks simple, its true purpose often gets forgotten or overlooked. And no, it’s not for shaping your glutes; if you want to do that, lift (heavy) weights! ⠀ ⠀ In this particular position, I’m looking for body alignment, control, and anti-rotational stability. The vast majority of people I see executing this movement end up in a twisted and hyperextended position though the spine, often externally rotating through the hip of the extended leg and flexing excessively through the lumbar spine to lift the leg. Many athletes, and people in general, have tightness through the lumbar spine and have learned to cheat and/or bypass true hip extension by hyperextending through the lumbar spine. Executing this position incorrectly only further trains the body into the dysfunctional pattern of using the lower back rather than the gluteal muscles. This position, while less complex than others, demands precision of body position and attention to detail; otherwise, it can train our bodies in the wrong direction.
Key Tips:⠀ 1. Start in a quadruped position, with the hips and shoulders stacked over the knees and hands.⠀ 2. Slowly begin to extend the back leg, use the gluten to support the leg. Only lift the leg to parallel to avoid hyper-extension through the lumbar spine. Make sure the lumbar spine remains neutral as the leg lifts.⠀ 3. Watch the pelvic position. It should remain neutral and square to the ground. The body should avoid shifting to one side or the other. Assess stability in all three planes of motion. 4. If the torso can remain in a stable and square position, the athlete may progress to extend the arm opposite of the back leg.
**The core should move minimally from the quadruped position to the bird-dog position.⠀