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  • Writer's pictureKeep It Moving PT & Wellness

Week 52: Dead Bug Heel Taps

Today marks ONE YEAR of Exercise of the Week! And we're celebrating it with:

Exercise: Dead Bug Heel Taps

Purpose: To maintain abdominal bracing via primarily deep core activation while stabilizing with short arc alternating leg movements

What It Targets: Transverse Abdominis, Internal Obliques, External Obliques, Psoas Major/Minor, Iliacus, Latissimus Dorsi, Pectoralis Major/Minor


  1. Lay on your back with your knees and hips bent into a 90/90 position parallel to each other

  2. Reach both arms up towards the ceiling with palms facing your feet

  3. Find a happy place for your spine and pelvis that allows for strong core engagement and abdominal tension

  4. Perform a quick exhale or a fake laugh and feel abdominal tension build in your abdomen. Maintain that level of muscle contraction through the next moves

  5. With your toes lifted towards your nose, tap one heel on the table by straightening your hip slightly. Do not let your back arch at all or core relax

  6. Bring your knee back up so your thigh is parallel to the other thigh

  7. Repeat on the other side and repeat as prescribed

Main Cues:

  • Maintain posterior pelvic tilt/happy place for spine

  • Maintain deep core activation without holding your breath

  • Keep knees bent to 90 degrees the whole time

  • We’ll say it again, don’t hold your breath!!!

Common Compensations/Adverse Effects:

  • Holding your breath at any point of the exercise

Correction: Count the number of breaths rather than how many seconds you are holding - each repetition should take about 2-3 breaths (about 10 seconds)

  • Excessive anterior pelvic tilt/low back arch

Correction: Maintain contact of low back with surface you are laying on

  • Hip pain or pinching

Correction: Decrease the range of motion/bend your knees more than 90 degrees

  • Losing the core engagement

Correction: Monitor your core engagement with the fingertips of one arm

Why We Love It:

  • Teaches you how to actually fire your core in a safe gravity minimized environment

  • Helps you learn how to coordinate proper breathing mechanics while firing your core

  • Practices maintaining core control while introducing leg and arm movement

*Disclaimer: Not all exercises are suitable for everyone, and participation in novel activities may increase the risk of adverse effects such as pain, soreness, or injury. Please consult with your Physician or a local Physical Therapist prior to attempting any exercise you feel uncomfortable performing. If adverse reactions occur, discontinue performance of the exercise and consult your physician or trusted clinician for evaluation.

Keep It Moving Physical Therapy & Wellness

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Suite 200 (Inside Muscle Mind Movement)

Burlington, MA 01803

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