Learn about the hidden big benefits of crawling on the ground
By Jamie Nischan
“Crawling on the ground is for babies…it couldn’t possibly be beneficial for adults.”
Dead wrong. In fact, the above statement couldn’t be further from the truth.
In the bigger picture-beyond the scope of our modern movement-deficient lifestyles-crawling is a natural movement pattern that has been forged into human DNA for over 375 million years. Embedded deep in our nervous systems, there lays a huge amount of untapped movement potential and physical robustness waiting to be nurtured by practicing key natural movement patterns. And crawling is arguably the most important one.
Here are my top 5 reasons to add plenty of crawling into your workouts:
#1 – Upper Body Strength and Structure
As a toddler you spent many hours a day interacting with the ground. The strength and capacity of your upper body was a result of supporting your bodyweight over your hands and elbows, a dynamic that demands large amounts of shoulder stability and goes nearly absent in the lifestyles of most adults. Stressing tissues that contribute to posture and shoulder health, crawling is a way to help recapture some of the upper body strength and structural integrity you had originally worked so hard to build in the first place.
#2 – True Core
The true function of the “core” is to distribute forces across the body while maintaining optimal alignment and positioning. Few other movements stress this function the way crawling does. The developmental path of going from a crawling infant to an athletic adult is no mistake. The movement skills we learn and perfect on the ground have tremendous carryover to the rest of our movement competencies in an ever expanding environment. Want to walk, run, swim, and play your sport of choice better? Start crawling.
#3 – Small joint integrity
If you’re like most people you assume the same body positions and postures day in and day out, even if you consider yourself an active person. The majority of the body’s articulations are within the hands, feet, wrists, and ankles. For the rest of the body to remain structurally sound, these articulations need to be nurtured and maintained. During crawling, the hands and feet interact with the ground in a variety of ways that demand ranges of motion rarely found in other movements; consider the angle of the wrists and big toes. If we don’t respect the natural positions that these joints crave, we can expect a variety of possible dysfunctions from turf toe to carpel tunnel syndrome.
#4 – Durability
The skin on your hands, feet, knees and elbows has remained soft and overly sensitive due to a lack of interaction with the ground. On a superficial level, this might seem like a good thing, but in reality your adverse disposition toward rough surfaces could be limiting your potential for a more active, healthy, and experience-rich lifestyle. Whether your working in a garden, kneeling to address a child, or cleaning your garage, if your primary concern is to avoid the discomfort of ground on your skin, you can’t engage in the experience fully.
#5 – Conditioning
Is too much running, cycling, or lifting hurting your joints? The design and structure of the human body affords it the ability to take on a tremendous amount of crawling work. When trying to create effective and balanced fitness, distributing your overall work load across a broad range of postures is going to result in less burnout and less overuse injuries. When appropriately incorporated in to a routine, crawling allows for more conditioning with less wear and tear on the body.
Just like any movement pattern, practicing crawling without good technique isn’t a great way to reap the benefits. Interested in learning natural movements, including crawling, with expert-level trainers?
Book a consultation with us, and start your journey toward moving and feeling better than ever.
By Jamie Nischan, MCT2, CES
Learn more about Jamie here.