Crawling is awesome and it’ll boost your fitness, strength, coordination and give you killer abs in just minutes a day…. hold on haha, that’s just too short, a bit like an infomercial and to be honest, not telling the story very well at all.
I re-discovered crawling in the past few years and I can only praise the movement and thank those for bringing to light just how awesome crawling is. I literally owe my ability to do more things now (note: and without pain) than I could even when I could squat 200kg!
So, what’s all the fuss about? I’m sure you may have seen some news reports on TV or in magazines etc. so, let’s start here, with a couple of observations.
Walk into pretty much any gym and what do you see? People exercising is probably your first thought before getting to details like running, cycling and rowing on stationary machines. You’ll note people too, in some very solid metal structures doing seated exercises for their legs, arms and back etc and yep, you’ll possibly see some people squatting, pressing and lifting barbells and dumbbells. Probably 90% of all this myriad of activities look impressive to you and to be honest, well done to those individuals for making the effort to rock up and exercise. Doing something is better than doing nothing at all you’ll agree, but, that’s where I’ll turn this around a little.
Most of the gym activities look fine until you look under the hood of what’s not happening or should I rephrase that as ‘not required to happen’.
A few big components missing from most gym training especially on sturdy machines is balance, stability and in particular reflexive stability. The structure of the machine and its moving parts that you press, pull or whatever, takes away the natural movement from you. So, whilst you do get to target a few specific areas or body parts, it is far from being a whole and human movement as all you end up doing is moving in the directions that the machine allows for.
In life when you need to perform a physical task, it’s your whole body that’s expected to react by means of reflexes to undertake the task.
We learned these reflexes naturally when we were kids. We moved around, explored our environments, stumbled, fell a few times but got back up and made improvements. Our balance, reflexes and control of our whole body became awesome.
We developed our original strength.
Sitting on a machine is far from this natural awesomeness!
Now, it’s not just gym machines that I’m pointing fingers at. Many other elements of modern living have enabled physical non competencies and allowed our bodies to forget what human movement is.
Between sitting too much generally, at work and at home and rarely getting to the floor for any reason, we are gradually forgetting what our human movement is and we’re gradually losing connection with our bodies. Our bodies are losing grips with the simplest of activities we’re meant to be able to do comfortably and without risk of strain!
I know, that last bit may read a bit woo-woo, but seriously. Look around you at other adults, and not just our seniors and check out how they move, kneel down to tie a shoe lace or pick up their child. It shouldn’t look like a labour, but in most cases it is.
Soooooo, before I get much more righteous, what has crawling got to do with this demise and doom’n gloom etc?
First off, crawling is a movement pattern that’s natural but much more importantly I consider the act of crawling as a great big switch.
Let me explain
The crawl is indeed something we all did as young kids to move around until we discovered the ability of walking. It prepared and taught us quite a bit. Check out the learning list:
- The movement pattern of gait; crawling, walking, climbing, running, sprinting with a simultaneous opposite arm swing. Seriously, try walking or running without your arms and you’ll figure out that it sucks!
- It ties together our bodies muscles and developed the reflexes that allows for balance and coordination.
- Head control. keeping that big mellon of ours steady whilst we moved around.
- Develops eye body communication.
- Develops mobility and stability in the 4 knots of the body; the two hips and two shoulders.
Why is this important for an adult, why do we need to crawl then?
In the quickest and easiest way to rationalise the why – adults are failing to move well.
In communities where adults have to move around frequently, get to the ground and back up easily and frequently, they move well generally. They walk tall, with good gait, arm’s a swingin’ and they probably don’t suffer the same lifestyle related issues compared to those communities who choose not to move often.
The simplest demonstration and practice of a crawl pattern is the static crawl and crawling in place.
Check out and even try this ‘Cross Crawling in place’ explained by Mark Cheng
If you can do this successfully then you’re in a good place physically. Struggle, wiggle and wobble a little? You need cross crawling in your life.
Now, let me explain one thing. The crawl as practiced by an adult should be used in my professional opinion as a tool to wake up dormant muscles and to reactivate forgotten movement skills to repair our function, posture and general wellbeing. It’s a tool that should be a in tool box with other great, purposeful health and fitness activities.
While it might get you a little out of breath, it’s not a fitness solution alone, not an interval tabatta tool or something that should be rushed or raced through.
On that note, how to crawl
There are a variety of methods of crawling from baby crawls which keeps us on our toes, knees and hands to more progressive variations like the spiderman crawl and leopard crawl.
To begin with, the baby crawl is where is starts. Mindful, slow crawling with the head up, looking where you’re going and having fun exploring the ground in the crawl position. If this proves a challenge, the crawling in place as per the video above is a great solution.
The spiderman, leopard crawl and other variations should only be practiced once the baby crawl is controlled. By control, I like to test this by having myself and clients do the baby crawl with a water bottle or yoga block on our backs and trying not to let it fall off whilst crawling. If our hips are dropping, balance falters, then we need more work.
To learn more about how to carry out the more advanced crawls, please watch the following videos but, in all seriousness, I really think more people need to start out at home practicing the baby crawl for a period of 1 to 5 minutes then getting up an moving on with daily activities. If this challenge is overcome, then the world of more fun crawls awaits.
No space to crawl?
And, here’s Original Strengths Tim Anderson talking about the Spiderman Crawl
If you’ve managed to read this far, maybe you’re interested and you’d like to explore crawling more.
If so, fill in the contact form to arrange an introduction to your ‘core’ and crawling.
Albany Creek, Qld 4035