Starting Position: Kneel on an exercise mat or floor, positioning your knees and feet hip-width apart, with your feet dorsi-flexed (toes pointing towards your body).
Slowly lean forward to place your hands on the mat, positioning them directly under your shoulders at shoulder-width with your fingers facing forward. Reposition your hands and knees as necessary so that your knees are directly under your hips and hands are directly under your shoulders.
Stiffen your core and abdominal muscles to position your spine in a neutral position, avoid any excessive sagging or arching.
Upward Phase: This exercise involves simultaneous movement of your leg and contralateral (opposite) arm. This exercise is best performed facing a mirror. Hip Extension: Slowly extend your left hip (raise and straighten the knee) attempting to extend it until it is at, or near parallel, to the floor without any rotation in the hip. Your goal is to keep both hips parallel to the floor. The use of a light bar placed across the hips, parallel to the waistline of your pants, provides visual feedback to hip rotation and what corrections are needed.
Shoulder flexion: Slowly flex your right arm (raise and straighten the arm) attempting to raise it until it is at, or near parallel, to the floor without any tilting at the shoulders. Your goal is to keep the both shoulders parallel to the floor. The use of a light bar placed across the shoulders provides visual feedback to shoulder rotation and what corrections are needed. Your head should remain aligned with the spine throughout the movement.
The degree of hip extension and shoulder flexion is determined by the ability to control against movement in the low back. As the leg is raised, individuals may witness an increase in lumbar lordosis (low back sagging). Only raise the limbs to heights where the low back position can be maintained through the combined actions of the core and abdominal muscles.
Downward Phase: Gently lower yourself back to your starting position and repeat with the opposite limbs.
The bird-dog is an excellent exercise to train the body how to stabilize the lumbar spine (low back) during upper and lower extremity movement. Never exceed your body's capacity to control movement in the low back.