Bullet Proof Your Spine with the Bird Dog Row

This Bird Dog Row is an excellent exercise for increased spinal stability and enhanced hip and shoulder function. For those of you that suffer from lower back pain this may be a movement you will want to spend some time getting good at.

Many of you may already be familiar with the traditional Bird Dog exercise (extend opposing arm and leg in the air, lowering slowly to the ground and then alternating limbs). The opposing arm/ leg movement required for the traditional Bird Dog, emulates the natural GAIT pattern and consequently almost everyone can perform the Bird Dog without a problem. If performed with intention you can achieve great activation of the primary CORE abdominal muscles including:

  • Transversus Abdominus
  • Multifidi
  • Pelvic Floor Muscles
  • Diaphragm
  • Interal Obliques
  • External Obliques
  • Spinal Erectors

 Plus it works the primary movers of the upper and lower body:

  • Psoas Major
  • Illiacus
  • Hamstrings
  • Latissimus Dorsi
  • Adductors
  • Quadriceps.

Connect the X: Lats and Glutes

The lats and glutes are designed to work as a team or what some rehab experts call a “Force Couple.” This Bird Dog variation works the entire body with a huge emphasis on the Gluteus Maximum and Latissimus Dorsi musculature working together as intended. Adding the rowing component encouraged activates of the poster oblique sling (latissimus dorsi and opposite gluteus maximus).

Think  of the lat and opposite glute pair as a giant “X”. The lats and glutes work together in creating stability in the lumbar spine. If you follow the orientation of the fibers you can see that the lat and glute muscle fibers practically merge into each other via the white portion which is called the thoraco lumbar fascia. 

I believe that people will never tackle their back pain issues if this relationship between the lats and glutes is not enhanced. Geeking out on functional anatomy is not required to get the benefit of this movement (leave the geeking out to me), but it does help to educate yourself on WHY you should do this movement. Simply put, if you take your time and progress slowly, I have found that all movements in your life will be enhanced if you can focus on this posterior sling relationship.

What you will need:

  • A bench.
  • A kettlebell or dumbbell.

Technical Cues

  • Minimize rotation in the body when lowering the weight.
  • Extend your leg back, not up (imagine toes pointing down, leg parallel to the ground).
  • Maintain a neutral spine. (Do not hyper-flex or hyper-extend any portion of the spine).
  • Eyes are looking down towards floor.
  • Row the Kettlebell or Dumbbell towards the hip.
  • Firmly grab the side of the bench wit an extend arm, hand directly underneath shoulder.
  • Focus on maintaining a smooth tempo.
  • Exhale as your row the weigh towards you and inhale as you lower the weight back down.

 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions is a great place to start.

In conclusion, I believe all people will benefit from the Bird Dog Row because of the strong activation of the lats and glutes and getting them to work as team. Give this movement a go and let me know what you think. 

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