The Dead Bug
Visualize a beetle or other type of bug trapped on its back with all it’s legs moving. This is where this exercise got its name: the “Dying or Dead Bug” exercise.
The dead bug exercise is used by our professionals for 3 main reasons:
- Teach patients how to properly use their “core” to stabilize the trunk and pelvis.
- Dissociate the hips from the pelvis. (Allowing the hips to move in isolation from other trunk and glute movements)
- Introduce a cross crawl pattern.
This basic exercise is valuable both as a teaching tool and a starting point. By having the patient first begin shifting their weight from one foot to the other with their hands on their hips they will get tactile feedback to aid them in learning to stabilize the pelvis with the core muscles. It is helpful to queue individuals with poor body awareness to keep their upper body relaxed, and not let the hips shift or rotate as they shift their weight from one foot to the other. In order to move the hips without the pelvis shifting, or rotating one must stabilize the pelvis and trunk using the “Core” muscles.
Hip Dissociation: This teaches the body that it can in fact use the hips individually without the help of other muscles or movements.
Cross Crawl Patterning: This is an extremely complex scientific topic that I will attempt to explain in a simplified way. One of the first things your body learns how to do instinctively is crawling. Its nature, it’s our brain’s way of figuring out this body we are in and it all comes down to input. Put very simply, the body is thirsty for input and using the opposite sides of your body helps stimulate your brain to learn and recognize where it is in space (proprioception). Our bodies learn to do things the easy way rather than the right way when it performs an incorrect movement over and over (slouching at the computer, typing, sitting) or when it is injured and trying to compensate for a body part that is causing pain or can’t perform its job properly. We use exercises like this to help reboot the brain and encourage it to learn dissociation.
This exercise is also a great opportunity to teach breath awareness. As an important part of core activation the diaphragm is often underused. The diaphragm is a muscle located under the lungs. Its job is to pull the lungs down into the bottom ribs (which in turn, pulls air in). Teaching controlled Belly Breathing and having patients pattern the two exercises together will help take muscle tension out of the neck, use the diaphragm muscle and increase focus on the task.