Dead Bug Exercise

Video Transcript:

Hi, I’m Dr. Mackay. And today we are going to be doing the dead bug exercise for pelvic or SI joint stability. 

For the dead bug exercise, we are going to start by stabilizing our hands against either a wall or a sturdy piece of furniture. So I’m going to push with my hands against this chair. That’s going to help to activate some of my core. 

I’m going to lift my legs up to roughly 90 degrees, and I’m going to slowly extend one leg down. The whole purpose of the dead bug exercise is to establish independence between my core or abdomen and my legs or hips. So again, I’m pushing on the wall like this. That’s going to help to activate my core and my leg is going to slowly go down into extension like this. 

I’m going to stop at about one or two inches above the floor. I’m going to hold that about two seconds and I’m going to come back up nice and slowly.

Important, when I’m coming down like this, I want to avoid my lumbar spine, my lower back, coming up into extension, lifting up, or my ribs flaring. If that’s taking place, you really need to focus more, concentrate more on maintaining core activation throughout. 

So again, I’m pushing up like this. I maintain the activation here. My leg goes down nice and slowly. I’m stopping about two inches above the ground. I hold that about one, two seconds. I come up again and I switch sides, and I drop my leg down. Again I’m about one or two inches above the ground. I hold that about two seconds. I come up again. 

If you feel a clunk when you go down, in your hip, you want to try to go down again, try to activate your core slightly more and to see about just gradually getting lower. So again, I’m going down about two inches above, I come up nice and slowly. I want to aim to do about five to six repetitions of this, and I want to do two sets of this.

What is the Dead Bug Exercise?

This modified dead bug exercise is designed to target the core muscles in a safe and effective way, without potentially aggravating or injuring the lower back. It is one of the best exercise to target the core muscles and for SI joint and pelvic stability.

Dead Bug Exercise Instructions:

  • Step 1

    Begin the dead bug exercise for SI joint stability be pushing with your arms overhead into a wall or sturdy piece of furniture. This will help to activate and engage your core, which should be maintained throughout the entirety of the exercise.

  • Step 2

    Lift both of your legs up to roughly 90 degrees, so that they are both off the ground.

  • Step 3

    While you continue to push gently against the wall, to maintain activation of your core, slowly lower one of your legs down (into extension), until your foot is approximately two inches above the ground.

  • Step 4

    Pause there for 2 seconds, then slowly raise your leg back up to the starting position, both legs bent at roughly 90 degrees.

  • Step 5

    Repeat with your other leg now, and aim to do 5 repetitions of the exercise on each side, 2 sets per side.

  • Step 6

    Important point: when lowering your leg down, do not allow your low back to raise up into extension, or for your ribs to flare out. If this occurs, refocus on maintaining proper core activation, and keeping your low back down throughout the movement.

  • Step 7

    If you experience of feel a “clunk” in your hip while lowering your leg down, stop, come back up slightly, re-establish core activation, and attempt to lower your leg down again. With time, you should be able to lower your leg further down without the clunk taking place.

  • Step 8

    If the dead bug pelvic stability exercise is painful, decrease the range of motion, or discontinue entirely.

  • Step 9

    To further strengthen your core, refer to the Plank exercise video, and the Side Plank exercise on feet video.

Read More About The Dead Bug Exercise Below

The dead bug exercise for pelvic stability is great for people with back pain, lower back pain, but especially for people suffering with SI joint pain or sacroiliac joint pain.

A common problem in people with pelvic instability is SI pain or sacroiliac pain, and this dead bug exercise variation, stabilizing against a wall, is very helpful to build core strength as a core exercise. This beginner bird dog progression is often easier for beginners because the arms are stable, requiring less coordination between the arms and legs.

Learning how to activate the core, and create independence between the torso and pelvis is a key for sacroiliac stability. This dead bug exercise for beginners should not be painful, but you may experience a “clunk” in your hip while performing it.

If this is the case, concentrate more on maintaining core activation while lowering your leg, and this should get easier over time.

As much as possible throughout the exercise, try to keep your lower back from raising up. If this happens, focus on maintaining core activation throughout the movement.

None of this dead bug for sacroiliac pain should be painful. If it is, increase your core activation, or decrease the range of motion of your leg. If the pain persists, stop the exercise, and consult with a health professional.

For more exercises to strengthen your core, refer to the Plank exercise video, and the Side Plank exercise on feet video.

Any questions, please ask.

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