Breath technique is the first component to core stability. The graphic below demonstrates a prone deep belly breath. Before beginning the suggested exercises below, take some time to get familiar with your breath. Breath through your nose so that your belly and ribs expand. Exhale through the mouth, relaxing the belly completely while pressing the breath through the muscle in the ribs.
Practice this breathing technique two to three times prior to exercise to help familiarize yourself with the breathing patterns that occur during movement.
This first progression for the dead bug exercise is the prone sliding leg extension. This graphic shows gliders, but a smooth surface with thick socks or paper plates works just as well.In the same prone position, take a deep breath in. On the exhale, lower the right leg while pressing the spine into the floor. Extend the knee as far as you can without extending the lumbar spine. If you feel an arch occur in your low back, stop just before it happens. Return to starting position in a smooth motion, then repeat on the left side.
The second progression is prone toe or heel tap. Practicing the same breath technique, lower the right foot to the floor, maintaining a bent-knee position. Tap the toe or heel on the floor and return to starting position.Repeat on the left side. Again, be aware of the low back position. If you feel the lumbar spine extending, reduce your range of motion to just before it occurs.
The third progression is the dead bug using the legs only. Repeat the same movement as the prone toe tap, but use a fully extended knee. Again lower just enough to avoid lumbar extension. The goal is to lower the heel to the floor with keeping the spine in neutral position.
The next progression is the bodyweight dead bug. This exercise requires synchronized contralateral movement of the arms and legs. With arms extended overhead and palms facing in, lower the right arm and left leg to the floor while exhaling. Extend as far as is comfortable without lumbar extension or twisting in the hips. Return to starting postion and repeat the movement with the left arm and right leg.
The fifth progression is a weighted dead bug. Using the same breath and movement pattern as the dead bug, hold two weighted plates, dumbbells, or other weights with arms extended overhead. Choose a weight that is comfortable and on the lighter side. Repeat the same movement pattern, controlling the pace of the weights to keep in sync with the legs.