When I first started working at Spindle Fitness and crawling was demonstrated to me, I gave my co-worker a strange look that essentially said, “Ummmm, that’s exercise?” And then was like, “Pshhhh, that’s easy.” I’ve done pilates. I do can like 50 crunches in a single sitting. My core is super duper strong. So, I got in the starting position for the crawl (quadruped) and attempted to move my limbs. It was a little awkward at first but I made it down to the end, like, “Yeah! Nailed it!” And then he told me to crawl again and, gave me two things to think about: keep my head up and try to keep my hips as still as possible. I began again and...I couldn’t keep my hips still. I felt like there was this weird disconnect from the lower half of my body and my abs. I’m like, “ABS. WORK!” It was also really challenging to keep my head looking forward - I need to see where I’m going, why is this so hard to do!? Alas, I was not successful. Thus, began my newfound respect of crawling and my determination to become better at it.
Here at Spindle Fitness, we love crawling. We incorporate principles from Original Strength, a philosophy of training that encourages people to use the movement patterns we learned as kids in a training regimen. You would think that, because once upon a time, we were on the floor crawling around, that it would be second nature, right? But, all of the years of walking and lots of sitting have left our bodies stiff and our natural movement patterns thrown all out of whack.
Here were some immediate benefits that I found when incorporating crawling into my programs.
Coordination - My upper body and lower body have to work together to move, as well as the right and left sides of my brain. Crawling helps to increase that communication within the body.
Reset - I love complex exercise movements that force me to use all cylinders. Crawling doesn’t require all of that. It’s enough focus that you can’t autopilot but not so much energy that it’s taxing on the brain. Because it’s a natural movement pattern, it actually provides a nice reset for our nervous system. Do it for long enough and it’s really pretty relaxing.
Strength - YES! Core, number one gain in strength. And that core strength I’ve gained from crawling has translated into stronger lifts. Stability and strength in shoulders and hips as well.
Where to Begin:
For ALL crawling variations, it’s important to keep your head higher than your butt and have minimal to no hip drop while crawling. *Videos available at the end of the post*
Baby (Quadruped) Crawl
This is a great place to start. Believe me, it’s looks easy but you’d be surprised at how our bodies need to reconfigure to doing this motion.
Start by getting into Quadruped position (neutral spine with knees directly under hips and hands under shoulders). Move forward, beginning with right hand and left knee and then follow with the left hand and right knee.
Leopard Crawl (Forward/Backward)
This is a progression of the baby crawl and it’s nice if you want to get the heart rate up a little bit. Start on the ground in quadruped position. Elevate knees slightly off the ground to where you are on your toes. On an exhale, move forward first the with right hand and left foot and then with the other side. Remember to keep your hips as still as possible!!
Lateral Leopard Crawl
Sidebar - It took me awhile to get this one. Like at least a few months. Because there were no instances in my life in which I moved laterally. It might be best to start this crawl variation on the knees first before elevating to the toes.
Start in Quadruped position - For this exercise, place your hands close together and your feet apart, slightly wider than your hips. Elevate your knees slightly off the ground, balancing on your toes. Decide what direction you’re going in first. I like to go right first, so on an exhale, simultaneously move your right hand out while bringing your left foot in. And then you repeat by bringing your right foot out and left hand in. (I promise you’re not doing the Hokey Pokey).
So, that’s a bit of crawling basics. It’s a simple exercise with tremendous benefits. If you find yourself wanting to change things up in your exercise program or if you’re looking for an active low intensity exercise, try crawling!