Alright, let's actually write about some training-related stuff eh!
I love the crawl. It is one of the Big 5 Resets from Original Strength, and we've used it significantly in the last 5 years at The Quad as well. But me liking the crawl is not a good enough reason for you to do it.
Let's hear a few good reasons about why we should be using the crawl regularly.
- It is part of the growth and development pattern of a human being. From learning to move our heads, and then to rolling, babies start to crawl before moving on to walking. While a lot of animal babies know to walk from birth, the human development timeline is much slower. This is because our brains are a bit more complex, and for the wiring to develop well, it takes time. And the mind-body connection is established through fundamental movement patterns like the crawl.
- It improves our sensory system (aka the vestibular system), and our proprioception improves as well. Not only will we get better at crawling but we will get good at sending signals to our body to do something - for example, arch that back a bit more, or open those hips out etc
- It improves our posture. This alone should be enough. We sit too much and we spend too much time on our devices. This means our hips are tight and weak. And our shoulders, upper+mid back is forward and rounded. The crawl allows us to work those hips, as well as maintain a neutral lower back, and keep a nice and open chest as well. Basically, it undoes everything terrible about our day.
- It works on your reflexive core stability. When we plank, we are bracing our midsection. We use this brace when we do most/all resistance movements. And we hope that when we run or sprint or walk, our core kicks on magically. Or conversely, we have people going "plank ON" during walking and stuff. This is where our reflexive core stability comes in i.e. our body should be automatically correcting itself because that's what it is meant to do. Try balancing on one leg - feel the micro-adjustments your foot and ankle makes. You are not controlling it - it is reflexive. Similarly, your entire body should maintain alignment and posture and best possible shape while sprinting or jumping. And this is done by working on your reflexive core stability. All the Big 5 Resets work on this, obviously.
- It improves your strength. Which muscle? Why don't you crawl for a bit and figure it out for yourself tomorrow.
- It improves your conditioning. Funnily, it gets your heart-rate up quite a bit. But not crazy amounts - coz you can stop whenever you want by putting your knees on the floor. Great way to work on your strength-endurance!
- It improves your gait pattern. Our walking and running is built on our crawl. If you sway, if you cross-over too much, it means you do the same thing when you walk or run. If you find that your arms don't move straight but swing across the midline of your body when you walk/run, that's inefficiency. You can fix all of it and more by crawling.
- It connects your body. I discovered this while running. My body just knit itself together, and as I pumped my arms, by knee drive improved and my running speed improved.
- For fat loss. You will suck at it. When you get good at it, find a progression. By being sucky at it, by getting your heart rate through the roof, it will burn fat off of you.
- For stability. It works our stabilisers significantly!
- Like the kettlebell's What-The-Hell effect, the crawl has it too. To figure it out, you have to do.
Not all of us will be ready to crawl from the start. Spend time on the neck nods and rocking. But yes, I know, you are impatient and you won't. It's okay. Here's a simple progression for you to use, or you can just jump around as well. The crawl is self-limiting and forgiving.
A few fundamentals
- stay relaxed. No tightness. No "brace the abs". In fact, let your organs drop to the floor.
- Neutral is fine - neutral neck, neutral spine.
- Extension is better. Our eyes need to look forward. So, neck in extension. Thoracic spine in extension, and the lower back from neutral to slight extension is great. But most of us have limited thoracic spine (mid-back area) mobility and will compensate by craning our neck too much. So, neutral as a start is fine.
Start with a crawl plank. Knees under hips, or further behind, and off the floor. Wrists under the shoulders. Big chest. Eyes a couple of feet in front of you. We ideally want the eyes to be looking forward when we crawl (see where you are crawling) but not at the expense of hyper-extension. Extension is fine and recommended.
Learn to hold this for 2 minutes. Why 2 minutes? Why not.
With your knees on the floor (knees were off the floor in the crawl plank), take one hand off. You should not see any movement/sway/dip on the unloaded side. Keep breathing nice and deep. Learn to switch hands.
4 reps (2/side) of 30s on this, while belly breathing.
Add in some perturbation via a helpful partner who is gently nudging you about. Try not to stiffen up too much, or clench the teeth. Partner can nudge the shoulders, the hips and just attempt to throw you off-balance. They should NOT throw you off-balance - let that reactive stability kick in.
A few nudges all around will do the trick.
Let's make it self-limiting and have it offer us some feedback. Do all the above drills with a paper cup filled with water.
Are you actually in this good posture, or are you thinking you are? Water pouring down your butt will tell you!
You are ready to crawl! Start with short steps, keep it slow and under control. The slower you can go, the better.
Once you can crawl for 1-2 minutes at a stretch without the water cup falling off, you can look up advanced variations.
The crawl will do significant things for your training. Use it in your warmup, use it as active recovery, use it on your play-days, use it as a finisher. The choices are limitless.