The Dead Bug and Hip Flexor Inhibition

The dead bug is used to hit your abs and obliques.

It’s a relatively simple exercise, however I make it more effective by using a special breathing sequence.

  • I inhale when my legs are in the resting position (bent).
  •  I exhale during the entire time which I am performing the leg movement.

This has the effect of maintaining a flat lower back, so that I am not too arched (extended). The reason I do this is because I want my abs to work in the position in which I am trying to live my life.

Inhaling and holding your breath will probably put your lower back into too much extension. That means the ribs will be up in front and my diaphragms will not be positioned correctly for proper breathing, thereby increasing the contribution of anterior neck and lower back muscles to help breathe. This can be problematic for many people and the source of lower back pain and other dysfunction.

Also, if my lower back is too arched, it’s likely my hip flexors will kick in too much and perhaps cramp up.

The TFL Cramp

Some people will experience a TFL cramp in the deadbug position. The TFL is a hip flexor muscle. An overactive TFL is often the result of an anteriorly rotated left pelvis, but it can also cramp on someone whose pelvis is neutral.

In order to get the TFL to turn off, you can try this inhibition technique.

  • Sit on a table or bed with your knees hanging off.
  • Place a rolled up towel underneath your left or right leg (whichever leg is cramping).
  • Lie back on the table and bring your knees to your chest.
  • Lower your left leg to the table and proceed to push your leg into the towel.
  • Hold this position for 5 breaths and then repeat.

This movement should activate your hamstring and through reciprocal inhibition, turn off your TFL.

Reciprocal inhibition is a neuro-muscular phenomena that allows opposing muscles, called antagonists, of the body to relax or contract. In this case, the hip flexor relaxes as the hamstring contracts as we push it into the towel.


  1. Mohamad Damaj says

    Good day.

    thank you for all your effort in making all those videos.
    I am from Beirut, Lebanon, I have a left aic pattern with right si joint pain.
    when I do the deadbug I feel a lot of pain in my right si joint, and I feel that I am out of alignment more than before. Am I doing something wrong?? is there any modified dead bug for this pattern?

  2. Jay Krishnan says

    I have anterior pelvic tilt , dead bug is good exercise as per all chiropractors s but by doing so I feel on my hip flexor, is it normal or should I stop doing?

  3. admin says

    Jay, if you are in the left AIC pattern then I wouldn’t do it. You’ll likely just be turning on more hip flexor.

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