The downward dog is a commonly performed exercise in Yoga and has become a popular "stretch". Although this exercise has huge upside if performed correctly it is unfortunately common to see people perform this exercise in positions and with techniques that compromise the optimum balance of stability and mobility (which is really important for healthy joints). For this reason, many people are not receiving the benefit of performing this exercise and in some cases people are getting hurt. A few colleagues and I have seen more than a handful of patients present with low back and/or shoulder pain after performing an ill-executed downward dog.
This video highlights some of the common errors in performing the downward dog and provides some pointers on how to perform it safely. This video should not replace effective one-on-one instruction.
p.s. I aplogize for the video quality... my HD videocamera broke and all I had was my phone... the quality is definitely good enough to get the point though, so please watch, comment, share.