In a trend building momentum, or a fake news headline that is getting repeated like real news, crawling or hopping on one’s hand and knees is the new fitness craze… um, crawling through gyms.
It’s not fake news, though. This is a real thing. We’ve been doing it since the beginning of time.
Admittedly, when I first heard about this I rolled my eyes. It screams gimmick. Crawling, however, you’ve done before.
Then I considered Capoeira, the Brazilian martial art which spends plenty of time low to the ground in near-crawling stances. That’s some pretty intense work. Why not expand that idea?
Crawling is easy, like walking, but when done with a high level of focus, varied with different versions and intensities of crawling, it could be a productive workout.
It’s the baby workout.
As a trainer, the first stance I used with new clients to assess their core strength was a four-point stance, otherwise known as a quadruped stance. It quickly reveals deficiencies in the body before a person moves, like sagging lower backs, forward heads.
On the hands and knees it’s tough to hide our body’s weak spots, which is a good thing. From there, we can focus on what needs to change.
Getting into the position is as easy as drinking too many tequilas. Doing it correctly requires a special kind of sobriety. You start with your knees and hands, equidistant from each other.
The X-factor in the quadruped stance is your spine, which stretches from your hips to the base of your skull. The back needs to follow its natural sway, slightly arched behind the shoulders, but curved in at the lower back.
The head pitches forward slightly.
It’s hard to make all those changes, so I tell clients to imagine there is a string running from somewhere at the top of their head, through the body then out the booty.
We imagine a giant pulling both ends of that string, stretching the body from head to booty. That usually does it.
The right way to keep that spinal alignment is to keep the core tight, but what does that mean? Your core involves all the support muscles around your hips and lower back. It’s the soft squishy part of your body between your pelvic cavity and rib cage.
There is a ceiling (your diaphragm) a floor (pelvic floor), and two walls, your spine, and your abs. You can tighten all those sections with one simple move.
Imagine there is another string, from your belly button to your anus. Imagine that string shortens, drawing the belly button in. Your whole core will tighten.
The butt shouldn’t change in relationship to that first spinal alignment; neutral. It should not tuck. It should not stick up.
This is harder than you may imagine. Most people cannot hold this position for more than 30 seconds the first time, not without moving their spine or shifting their hips.
Now try to maintain that uniformity in a crawl. Get ready to cry over nothing. Now you understand how babies feel.
The crawl progresses into low versions, like Spiderman crawls. I talked about them in this blog: Workout Like A Superhero With These 5 Superhero-named…
The same crawl stopped mid-stride, one arm, and leg forward but not down, becomes an intense isometric. It will tear up your abs like no crunch ever could.
A backward crawl will challenge your nervous system in ways that cause that famous (made-up) concept called muscle confusion. You will just call it brain confusion. Crawling backward is difficult, but also intense.
Crawling like an inchworm is also tough. Up on your fingertips will build your finger strength, but you can also modify the crawl.
Lift up your hands and kick back into a hunker, where your butt is below your hips. Then walk like a duck. Your butt will ache like you did heavy squats.
Put your hands behind you to walk like a crab. All of these variants you have to maintain those initial standards: spine and core. In a word, it’s hard.
All workout carry some risks. What you won’t suffer in a crawling workout is any impact fractures. You won’t fall down either, not far.
You may find it difficult to maintain your standards of a straight spine and tight core, so your lower back may be sore. There is a risk of keeping your hips in a hinged state. This is what we do in most of our jobs, hinged in the seats of our jobs.
I worry about duplicating this hinged state in the one place I ask a client to avoid tightening their hips. We should work to open the hips in the gym.
If this fashion of exercise turns into a real trend, we’ll see some lower back injuries. We will see that workouts with limitations like this can become problematic.
The prospect of a workout that lets folk stay close to the ground could be inviting. That means they are that much closer to lying down. It’s a tricky workout.
At a glance, it’s an eye roll. One might think he could do it with little effort.
The question is how do those eye-rollers feel after their first class? Will they come back for more? If we are to believe what we read online, then yes.