Chattanooga biofeedback device

The Dead Bug Exercise For Increased Core Strength

By: Craig Fitzpatrick

Whether you are just learning how to brace your abdominals, or you are a seasoned athlete who has been doing it for years, it can be difficult to make sure you are doing it correctly.  One of the biggest issues is how to brace without over-flexing/flattening  the lumbar spine, which would  place our spine in an unsafe and potentially destructive position. This video will show you how to safely perform the Dead Bug Exercise Routine, and how to use a Biofeedback pillow – an excellent tool to measure abdominal control and strength.


  1. Demonstrate what is the best and safest position of the spine for abdominal bracing
  2. Demonstrate how to progress from a beginner’s routine to more challenging versions

You will need:

  1. A flat floor
  2. A biofeedback device.  We recommend the Chattanooga Stabilizer Biofeedback Device, because this device will make it abundantly clear how much your stomach muscles are working.
  3. If you do not have access to a biofeedback device yet, (and if you have proper shoulder flexibility) you can do this instead: You can interlock your fingers and place them directly behind your lower back.  Although this is not nearly as accurate as the biofeedback device, the pressure on your hands will inform you how much pressure you are applying. A final option is rolling up a towel  to the thickness of your hand and placing it at the L3 level of your lower back.

What to Remember:

  1. The biofeedback pillow should be centered at the lumbar spine, both horizontally and vertically.
  2. The neck should be relaxed throughout the exercise; some people try to use neck extensors to assist with the motion.
  3. Make sure you are using your stomach, and not your hip flexors.  Think of your hip flexors are puppets on a string, and the stomach is in the puppet master. If the effort of the hips ever eclipses that of the stomach, then the  exercise is too advanced for you at this point.  Remember: the exercise is not to see if you can accomplish the motion, it is about training the stomach to be the prime stabilizer. The hip flexors should assist in stabilizing the core, but should NEVER be the dominate core stabilizer.  It is very easy for the iliopsoas to become over facilitated and try to become the main stabilizer, which can lead to back pain and injury, and it can shut down abdominal function.


  1. Basic bracing with knees bent
  2. Basic bracing with legs slightly extended
  3. Basic bracing with legs extended
  1. Marching with knees bent
  2. Marching with knees slightly extended
  3. Marching with legs fully extended
  1. Marching with both hips flexed, knees bent
  2. Marching with both hips flexed knees slightly extended
  3. Marching with both hips flexed, legs straight