Crawling: the under appreciated natural movement

I love all kinds of exercises.  I’ve enjoyed martial arts, Yoga, free weights, running, hill sprints, calisthenics, club bells and friends.

One of the most under-appreciated functional exercises is crawling.

Ask any wrestler or martial artist, and they will likely tell you how great crawling is for your body. Crawling is a natural movement.  Before we learn to walk, we learn to crawl, before we crawl, we rock back and forth, and master moving from our belly to our back and other subtle movements.

Try asking an adult to get down and crawl – or worse yet- wriggle around on their belly and you will find that most wont want to.  If they did give it a go, more than likely they would be quite weak at crawling, and get tired very quickly. Crawling is hard work!  Hard work is good, if we find exercises that challenge out muscles in new (or old) ways, then we should use them. Especially when they are low impact movements that work with the natural movements of our spine and pelvis, rather than leaving us injured and full of excess tension.

The most basic crawl involves getting down on your hands and knees and moving around.  Hold your head up and look forward.  If your neck is too stiff and inflexible, let it hang down while crawling, but lift it somewhat to wherever is comfortable, you don’t get any more flexible or strong by NOT using your neck!

Once you’ve got the idea of it, try crawling around for a bit (indoors is usually best to avoid embarrassment).  Soft mats on the whole floor are ideal like in a Ju-Jitsu Dojo or Crossfit Gym.  However, most of the time I just crawl around my living room at night. Crawl forwards, crawl backwards, crawl diagonally.

5-10 minutes of this exercise will really kick your ass if you have not done it before.  To add some challenge, try crawling with your knees raised slightly off the floor, or try crawling with any three limbs instead of four, alternate the limb that does not touch the ground.

Once you master crawling, you are ready for Bear Crawls, which are even more challenging, and just as fun, and will really kick your ass.