Benefits Of Crawling
What does your exercise routine look like?
Do most of your workouts involve a lot of sitting or standing on gym machines, or do you place a strong emphasis on training natural movement skills like:
If you answered, “yes” to the second question, you’ve made me a happy trainer. By getting away from sitting and using traditional health club machines while you work out, and performing movements like crawling, you are training your whole body, in a practical and integrated way. This is a smart approach to fitness; a strategy that will provide you with long-term results and prepare your body for all that life will throw at you!
If you answered, “no” to practicing natural movement training, and you never add exercises like crawling to your fitness routine, then continue reading this post. Prepare to have your traditional way of thinking about “fitness” change.
- In this article I explain why I believe movement skills training is an essential element to ALL fitness routines, regardless of what your end-goals are.
- I also explain why the natural movement skill exercise, crawling, is uber important, regardless of your age
We need to think naturally and practically
Train with practical intent, and you will give yourself a better chance at leading a healthy, happy and optimal life.
- Regardless of your age or fitness level, you can always improve your natural human movement skills. You can begin this type of training or add this method to your workouts at any time and any phase of your life.
- When we focus on becoming more efficient with all elements of human movement, everything else falls into place. It is a very balanced approach to fitness, and balance is good!
- Getting stronger and more conditioned in fundamental human movement patterns fully prepares us to be ready for “life” and all that it throws at us. When you improve your efficiency with natural movement, you will naturally strengthen the body, improve and reduce the risk of injury, and better your overall quality of life. I have personally seen results – with myself and with my clients.
- Training with practical intent just makes sense. It is natural form of exercise and taps into what we all have been programmed and hard-wired to do. It emulates the types of higher level tasks that our bodies were designed to complete.
Benefits of crawling
Crawling, the developmental movement pattern that most of us have been given the ability to perform, is touted as a rehabilitative, restorative, and even a performance-enhancing movement. Here are some of the many benefits of crawling:
- It is a building block to other human movement patterns. As the basis of our gait (walking) pattern, crawling is a contra-lateral (opposite-limb coordination) movement that forces the hips and shoulders to work together in a coordinated fashion and aids in other essential movements such as walking, running, skipping and climbing.
- It strengthens and improves our hand-eye coordination.
- Crawling is one of my favorite exercises because it stimulates the central nervous system and instinctively forces the brain and muscles to work together. When crawling, all muscles throughout your body are stimulated, especially your core musculature. This lays a foundation of strength and mobility that translates into power.
- Crawling can be considered a reset for your central nervous system. It restores your central nervous system, decreases stress levels, and allows you to recover faster from the strains of your training and toils of your daily life.
- This movement skill stimulates the muscles throughout your arms, legs, and torso to fire through sensory nerves called mechanoreceptors, in our hands and feet. These sensory nerves act like tiny buttons. When these buttons get pressed, the muscles throughout the body instantly contract. Every step you take, every single time your hands touch the ground, you are reflexively firing the muscles throughout your body. Each step makes your reflexes a little more efficient, a little more fine-tuned. This is gentle and practical strength training in the form of foundational strength training. It is exponentially more effective than sitting on say, a leg-press machine in the gym and soley pushing with your legs.
- Crawling builds a base of reflexive strength (also known as reflexive stability), the original strength you were born to develop. Reflexive stability is your body’s ability to anticipate movement before it happens and/or reflexively react to movement as it happens. The faster your reflexes are, the more supple you are. Think of this as your foundation of strength. Without reflexive strength, you lack strength, mobility and power.
- On a more personal level, I feel crawling opens the door for curiosity and a sense of freedom in during my workouts – something I do not get when I am stuck on a machine at a gym.
We are all hardwired to crawl
- Crawling isn’t just for babies. You, me and everyone else were hardwired to crawl. Don’t underestimate its value. Crawling is a movement pattern that is designed to keep us healthy and strong throughout the course of our lives. Even though you may be an adult, the program for crawling is still inside of you today and the crawling “programming” still works. You may have to dust it off, but if you practice crawling, it will still tie your muscles together, feed your brain and connect with your nerves in the same way that it did when you were younger.
- Many see crawling as a silly thing, especially when adults do it – but I see it as an essential form of strength training. When one cannot crawl well, he most likely is not walking or running efficiently either. Yes, crawling, a seemingly childish and foolish “exercise,” could be the one thing that improves your health, your strength, your mobility, and your performance in any athletic area. It could even improve your ability to think, focus, and reason.
- Although crawling seems like an easy movement to do, it can be quite challenging. Just look at babies – it takes great effort and practice to be able to crawl. As adults, many of us never revisit crawling again – compound this lack of practice with poor mobility and movement patterns, (a result of sedentary lifestyles many desk-jockeys experience), and our movement skill of crawling is lost… but lost temporarily. It is possible to regain the ability to crawl.
Variations of crawling
Crawling can be performed forwards, backwards and sideways, slow or fast, for time or distance and there are many versions of this exercise – some easier than others. Some types of crawls include:
- Knee-hand (“bear” or “baby”) crawl
- Foot-hand (“bear” or “baby”) crawl (knees are elevated off the floor during this crawl)
- Army (commando) crawl
- Leopard crawl
- Spiderman crawl
I feel it is important to master the knee-hand and foot-hand crawl before advancing to the leopard and spiderman crawl. To learn how to properly perform the foot-hand bear crawl exercise, please click on the link below:
Now, that you know the many great benefits of crawling, get down on that floor and start moving.
When she is not slaying fat and building muscle, Jennifer can be found trekking barefoot, traveling, cooking and refining her photography skills. She also enjoys reading and writing about food culture, history and the science of human movement.