Last week we discussed why diaphragmatic breathing was important and the role it plays in helping stabilize our spine. We went through common compensation patterns that are seen as well as a quick exercise to help train the diaphragm, lower abdominals and pelvic floor.
This week we are going to focus on the application of the basics to a common abdominal exercise, the dead bug. Starting at the basics, we will start by lying on our backs in a comfortable position with the bottom of our feet flat on the floor. In this position, we will apply what we went over last week, deep breath in focusing on full 360∞ expansion of the lower abdomen.
To help progress this exercise in this position, what you want to do is cough slightly and hold this contraction in your abdomen. While maintaining this contraction/pressure we are going to now breathe. By practicing this breathing method with a mild contraction, we can make sure that we are breathing adequately during exercises. With a mild bracing in the abdomen as well as diaphragmatic breathing, we are making sure that our spine is stabilized throughout the exercise.
Now to apply this to the dead bug exercise, do all the above and slowly bring your hips and knees to 90∞. Make sure to keep a “neutral” spine throughout this exercise. This does not mean to flatten your back against the ground. That is not what we are looking for. Neutral means whatever the “normal” curve you have in your low back, is what you are to maintain. Common mistakes as we become fatigued, our mid back/low backs will come out of neutral and our ribs will flare upwards. Again, make sure to maintain this contraction in the abdominals as we move through the movement. Start by just moving the arms, then the legs, then to progress further, add opposite arm and opposite leg.
The great thing about the dead bug exercise is this; if we were to pick you up from the dead bug and place you on your feet, you would be in the front deep squat position or the overhead squat position (depending on where your arms are in the movement). This exercise translates well to your lifts and overall performance by teaching you stabilization, sequencing and how to breathe all at the same time. Essentially, control and coordination are at the fore front of the dead bug.
Below is a link to a video on instagram of the dead bug and a recording of the video.
The Achieve Movement Team
Dr. Steve Martinow and Drew Martinow D.C(c)