Exercise of the Month
In July's volume we highlight the Bird Dog exercise. It is important to incorporate core exercises into your daily routine because every movement we make starts from our core. The primary muscles being worked in this exercise include your abdominal muscles, low back, glutes, and thighs, but it also works your hamstrings, mid and upper back muscles, and shoulders. Balance is another key benefit to this exercise, as we perform it many small muscles we don't typically work during traditional core exercises are being engaged. As an added bonus, it works your right and left brain simultaneously.
This exercise is great for beginners, and more experienced exercisers can take it up a notch with variations.
Preparation for exercise: a mat (nice but not necessary)
Movement of exercise
Get into the starting position by kneeling on a mat. Your knees should be hip width apart, and in line with each other. Gently lean forward, and place your hands on the mat directly below your shoulders. Your shoulder joints, and wrists should line up as should your knees and hips.
It is important to keep your spine in a neutral position, your eyes should be looking at the floor right below them, engage your abdominal muscles, do not arch or round your back.
Extend your right leg out behind you, using your glutes to lift it up, point your toes toward the floor extending your heel away from you. Extend your left arm out in front of you, palm down. Your arm, core, and leg should all be in a nice straight line (imagine there is a two-by-four board on your back and you want to keep it completely level).
As you extend your limbs, exhale, hold the position for the count of two and slowly lower back to the floor on your inhale.
Switch sides. After you've completed one on each side, you've completed one repetition.
Avoid the common mistake of arching or rounding your back, bending your neck and looking up or between your arms. Remember that we need to keep our entire spine in line (that includes your neck). Also, use your glutes to lift your legs not your low back muscles. They are small secondary muscles, and though this exercise is extremely beneficial for strengthening them, we don't want to injure them. Using your glutes will alleviate that problem. By following these rules, you will get the full benefit of the exercise.