You may be asking yourself how is crawling going to help me get fitter? Stronger? Lose weight/fat? The answer is crawling creates an environment that gives you the opportunity to (re)learn how to move. When you know how to move with a high level of efficiency/quality it is easier to move more, it is easier to learn new movement skills, and there is generally a reduced potential for injury. Crawling is one of the first movement skills human beings learn, it is one of the next steps after a baby learns to rollover and is the step before a baby learns to stand and walk. These skills are generally developed before a child turns 1 year old. A baby doesn’t have a great variety of exercises or movements to practice/train, a baby is simply spending a majority of their waking hours putting in the work necessary to obtain the movement skills needed for life. One must crawl before they walk.
The steps a baby goes through when learning to walk:
1. Develop strength to hold head erect when upright (ex. breast feeding… typing and texting destroys neck strength)
2. Lifts self up by arms (think plank)
3. Rolling over from side to back and back to side (rolling patterns)
4. Sit alone (think ground up section of Turkish getup)
5. Crawl (coordinates all the above movements and sets the base for the movements to follow)
6. Pull to stand (squat, bend, lunge patterns will be executed here for the first time)
7. Stands (developing the posture/strength necessary for bipedal motion)
8. Walks (dynamic bipedal movement that involves the integration and coordination of all body parts)
Benefits of Crawling:
• A learning environment that needs little coaching
• Improves strength and core function
• Improves coordination between the left and right side of the body
• Improves coordination between the upper and lower body
• Sets the stage for improving performance on strength exercises (squats, deadlifts, lunges, pushups, pullups)
• Helps improve bipedal motion (walking/running)
• Can also be very metabolically demanding!
Babies don’t have a trainer/coach telling them how to do any of the above steps, they don’t have the capacity to understand language yet. Babies do this work on their own and may sometimes be guided by parents actions or cues; but they most certainly aren’t getting told activate your core to pick yourself up off the floor, now squeeze your lats as you pull yourself forward, and drive yourself ahead by using your hamstrings. A baby just begins to move, fails, tries again, fails, tries again, succeeds, fails, tries again, fails, tries again, succeeds and repeats this process over and over. With each failure and successful movement attempt a baby intuitively learns something about movement and begins to write the motor program for movement.
While a baby is learning to execute these movement skills they are at the early stages of core development and function. As we age we generally spend less time exploring movement and more time being sedentary. The result of this change is poor movement skills, core function, and posture. By taking an adult (or even a teenager) back to the earliest stages of motor development we create a learning environment that allows a person to regain movements that were once essential to their initial development as a human being which gives them an opportunity to improve movement skills, core function and posture.
As you can see in the steps above crawling is a precursor to many of the exercises associated with typical exercise programs; squats, lunges, deadlifts, walking, running, etc. If crawling presents a challenge for you, more complex movements will likely present a challenge as well. If crawling isn’t a challenge for you then you are a prime candidate to start or continue to practice/train more complex movements. By using crawling in this manner an individual can best prepare themselves for successfully reaching their fitness goals. Go ahead and give our #crazycrawlchallenge a shot, we are asking for 30secs a day for the rest of January, you will learn something about your movement skills while improving performance in all other aspects of your training.
Next week I will be posting an article on integrating crawling into your current training program and don’t forget to head over to the StayFitAnywhere Facebook page to vote for this week’s winner in our #crazycrawlchallenge.
Josh Neumann, BHK
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