Low Back Pain Core Training : Dead/Dying Bug Exercises

I am a huge advocate of core training specifically exercises that are anti-extension, anti-rotation, & anti-flexion based.  Exercises such as 1/2 kneeling cable lifts & chops, belly press holds, every type of plank variation, farmer walk variations, all of these are awesome for athletes and the general population.  The next two exercises I have started using with a client of ours at Endeavor who has suffered from low back pain and came to us with shoulder pain & lack of stability (motor control).  The dead bug/dying bug are exercises that I learned from Craig Liebenson

The importance of co-contraction in all of the core musculature like the TVA, external obliques, internal obliques, and rectus abdominis is what creates the brace in order for the spine to become stable.  It has also been shown that decreased activation of the oblique abdominals/TVA relative to the rectus abdominis (your washboard abs muscle) is correlated with low back pain (LBP).  Consequently,  teaching any athlete or client how to keep neutral spine in the presence of change may ensure optimal stability.  These two exercises (progressions of each other) teach motor control, core stability, abdominal bracing (co-contraction), while limiting the stress on the spine.

Dead Bug with Core Activation

  • Keep normal lordosis of the lumbar spine
  • Lock the ribs down (ribs flared is a faulty stabilization)
  • Press into the wall which will activate the core
  • Alternate tapping each heel down the floor maintaining neutral spine

Stability Ball Dead Bug

  • You could start this exercises without the ball
  • Lock the ribs down without posteriorly tilting the pelvis (which will flatten your low back on the floor)
  • Alternate arm and opposite arm
  • Bonus points if you can breathe through your belly with the arm and leg movement

I think you will be surprised how difficult these can be. Our client now has had very limited shoulder pain, low back pain, lost over 20 pounds, and is much stronger since being at Endeavor for only 2 months.  Sweet.  Do not do what causes pain.



Categories: Core Training, Injury Prevention

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1 reply


  1. Articles. « Killsession Musings

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