Is it a bird? Is it a plane? …

20 February 2018 | Laura

We often get asked which exercises are good for strengthening the muscles of the core and back. One brilliant exercise is the “cross crawl” or “bird dog” as it is sometimes known. This exercise looks fairly simple but when done correctly utilises a lot of different muscle groups. It is broken into multiple steps, so take your time mastering each step before moving onto the next.

The first step is all about learning to tilt your pelvis into the correct position before starting the exercise itself.

Start by standing with your feet shoulder width apart, a slight bend in your knees and your hands on your hips. Slowly tilt your pelvis forwards and backwards until you find the middle ground or your “pelvic neutral”. Slowly contract your abdominal muscles or “core”.

Next, come onto the floor on all fours with your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Find your “pelvic neural

Once this is comfortable, slightly contract your core muscles or “engage” the core, this will provide your stability. Without rotating the upper body, slowly lift one hand from the floor, reaching out in front of you. The slower you move, the more control you will have and the harder you will work your muscles. Hold for a few seconds, then return that hand to the floor. Repeat with the opposite hand, then alternate for 5 to 10 repetitions per hand.

Once you have achieved this previous step with ease, you can move onto the legs. Again, “engage the core” and preventing rotation through the body, particularly at the pelvis, slowly extend your leg by dragging your toes out along the floor behind you until your leg is straight. The you can lift the leg slowly starting a few cm from the ground and lifting slowly until horizontal. Be aware of any wobble or rotation in your body. If you can’t lift far without wobbling, this is as far as you take it until you increase stability.

When you have mastered both arm extensions and leg extensions, you are ready to combine the two. Raising the left arm and the right leg at the same time, maintain a steady and stable body position. Hold for a few seconds then return your hand and knee to the floor. Repeat with the right arm and left leg.

You can further advance this exercise by not allowing your knee and hand to return to a fully rested position, instead, drawing the elbow and knee towards each other, curving slightly into the back, drawing your belly button back towards your spine. Alternate between position A and position B.
Remember to “engage the core