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Friday Fit Tip: Bird dog for back strength

The bird dog exercise mirrors the classic stance a dog takes when it sees a bird and locks into a pointing pose with its foreleg in the air.

INDIANAPOLIS — If you have lower back pain, Friday's Fit Tip is for you, because we have an exercise from a chiropractor that might help.  

Doctor Clark Scott at Summit Spine and Therapy in Castleton demonstrated the "bird dog" exercise that you can do at home. 

When we have lower back pain, it's often caused by issues above and below the back. So we don't have to be just mobile, we have to be stable, and the bird dog is a great exercise Dr. Scott sends home with a lot of patients to strengthen the body's cores support muscles.

"Before we get into it, we have to find out where we need to find that stability," Dr. Scott explained, "and it comes from the unsung hero, your diaphragm, right? So a lot of people don't think about that." 

The quick and easy way to find your diaphragm is to place your fingers right above your pelvis and then try to breathe into your fingertips without breathing into your chest. As you fill with air, you create the cylinder support. "We're going to call that our 'abdominal brace,'" said Dr. Scott.

Once you locate your "brace," you can move into the bird dog, which mirrors the classic stance a dog takes when it sees a bird and locks into a pointing pose with its foreleg in the air. 

Starting with the abdominal brace filled, you extend your right leg until it's completely straight behind your body. Then reach forward with your left arm up and hold that pose for eight seconds.  

After eight seconds, slowly bring back both limbs and restabilize so you're not shifting side-to-side, and repeat the motion with the opposite leg and arm for another eight seconds, then relax.  

Dr. Scott recommends his patients do this at least 10 times in repetition at least twice a day. 

Try the bird dog with the abdominal brace to see if it will help you become your "best you."