During Winter Training Circuits you will have noticed that I have introduced various crawling exercises. So far we have tackled bear crawls, inchworms and side crawling but do you know the benefits of crawling?
Why use crawling exercises?
"The bear crawl strengthens your midsection and improves your ability to stabilise your spine," says Sean De Wispelaere, a trainer for Men's Health Thrive in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. "This allows you to lift more weight and boost your athletic performance. Crunches alone can't do that."
Think of the bear crawl like a travelling plank. You have to maintain the same rigid, neutral torso you would while in a plank position, but now you're moving forward, backward, and side-to-side. As your arms and legs move, the more than two dozen muscles in your core must resist the urge to rotate and flex, says De Wispelaere. If you do this often enough, you'll soon notice more stability, strength, and power in everything you do.
Crawling exercises are multi-joint movements that engage the entire body, while emphasising the core and shoulder muscles. But they offer a lot more benefits than just working your abs and shoulders:
1. Increased Coordination
Basic crawling patterns train the coordination between your upper and lower body, which is hugely important for pretty much every single physical activity you do.
2. Increased Kinesthetic Awareness
Crawling also trains your central nervous system, increasing your kinesthetic awareness and core control. This is such a valuable benefit because the nervous system is the master regulator of the body. If it senses instability, it will put on the brakes to avoid injury.
3. Improved Flexibility & Core Stability
A lot of the flexibility issues that people experience are not necessarily due to tightness of specific muscle tissues, but rather a stability issue in the core. In other words, because people lack core stability, the nervous system limits the range of motion in specific parts of the body. It’s a protective mechanism. Confused? Watch master trainer Dean Sommerset increase the “flexibility” of one of his students without doing any stretching at all.
By adding these crawling patterns into your workouts you can improve your core stability, which can translate into increased joint range-of-motion and improved flexibility. The more control you have over your spine and torso, the more the nervous system will allow you to get into various positions. In other words, by training a few basic crawling patterns, you could simultaneously improve your movement mechanics in every other movement you do, giving yourself more room to work with.
4. Improved Walking Mechanics
Crawling is also the foundation of our walking pattern, which is arguably the most “functional” exercise we do on a daily basis. Hopefully, you’re taking at least 7,500 steps (or more) per day, so it’s vital that you have proper walking mechanics. Doing crawling exercises can help you pinpoint certain problems with your walking pattern, and over time help to make you a better, more efficient walker.
To see 21 different types of crawling exercises (including bear crawls) try this you tube video: