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How To Bear Crawl…Like a Baby

We are born with better movement patterns than most of us have now as adults…Just kidding…sort of…

But babies, that can’t even walk yet, can most certainly do certain things better. They definitely squat better AND crawl better than most adults do.

Babies do rock bottom squats like it is nothing. While trying to get an adult to do just a squat to 90 degrees can sometimes be a painful, long process.

Same goes for crawling.

Babies motor around like it is nothing. They crawl over grass, concrete and carpet, barely even noticing the change in texture.

But when adults are asked to crawl, they barely make it five steps before they are out of breath (or complaining about their hands on the turf)…and that is even if they can first understand the coordination of crawling.

It makes me sad how much we lose some natural movement patterns. It makes me sad that we lose such a great mind-body connection.

And I don’t think it has to be this way!

Everyone should be able to crawl, whether or not it is a table top crawl or a basic bear crawl. We should all be able to do it!

So here is a little breakdown of the basic forward bear crawl and proper form.

how to bear crawl

Now you are probably thinking…Why the heck would I ever want to crawl when I can walk?

Because crawling is GREAT exercise! (And it is kind of fun too!)

Crawling works your entire body, from your shoulders to your knees. It is a great core strengthener AND it is great cardio.

Plus crawling works on your coordination and agility.

And honestly, the older we get and the more we lose that mind-body connection (our coordination and balance), the more we need to crawl.

People just accept that as they age they won’t have the same coordination or balance that they once had. And while, yes, our body does change with age, that doesn’t mean we have to accept that falling or feeling uncoordinated is just a part of life.

Getting our body and mind to continue to connect and work together is key. And movements like the bear crawl help us work on that connection.

So now the question really is…Why aren’t you crawling!?!

Try it today! Set a timer for 5 minutes and see how long you last crawling around. You can even mix in backward and sideways crawls once you master the forward bear crawl.

bear crawling

Opposite arm and leg working together. Nice flat back…And boy can he motor!

Coordination – The drills most people skip

Ever feel like there is a huge disconnect between your limbs and your brain when you are doing an activity?

Then you probably need to start doing more speed, agility and quickness drills like the ladder – which are honestly drills for the mind as much as they are for the body.

ladder_agility_drills_inout

Coordination is all about how fast your mind and body can communicate.

Balance drills and most speed, agility and quickness drills work on neuromuscular control, which means they work on your mind’s ability to communicate quickly and efficiently with the body to produce a specific movement.

Besides being a great workout, these drills will help you master form in other workout moves and help you realize your true strength. These more efficient movement patterns will lead to fewer injuries AND you will probably see strength increases in your lifts because you are recruiting the right muscles in the right order quickly!

Ok so what drills should you add to your workout to improve your mind-body connection?

Balance drills are a great place to start.

Have you ever tried balancing on one foot? Maybe one foot up on your toe (it’s actually very difficult and you may want to start on both toes)? Maybe one foot on a foam pad?

Balance work will help you start improving that mind-body connection and it will strengthen your feet and ankles.

You can then move onto some plyometric training.

Most people define plyometric training as jump training, but that isn’t correct. Plyometric training is training that improves your ability to move quickly between an eccentric and concentric contraction – it improves your body’s ability to decelerate and then accelerate then decelerate quickly without much pause.

Jumping can be a great way to train this. Think about the squat jump. Start by loading or squatting down a bit. Then jump up and squat back down to jump up again. A beginner should pause after each jump before jumping again. Someone more advanced will try not to pause between jumps because their body can quickly decelerate and accelerate. The goal of this training is to go as fast as possible while maintaining control.

A HUGE part though of jump training is the landing. You should land softly….like a ninja. This requires that you bend your knees and don’t land flat-footed. It may mean squatting down enough that you swing your arms as if you are grabbing gravel off the ground. The landing is key…it is when most people get hurt. So if you are new to jump training, you may want to even start by jump UP to a very very low box. As you master this, go a bit higher or even work on the jumping OFF of the box part.

Using the ladder or cones can be another great way to improve your neuromuscular control. Shuffle quickly around cones. You can do this in a straight line or in a circle. You can sprint then shuffle then back pedal then sprint. You can mix it up. The key is quick movements and quick changes in direction.

The ladder is one of my favorite tools because it is super easy to see improvement in. You can do running forward with one foot in each box or make it harder by doing both feet in each box. You can do ins and outs or the Ali shuffle. Or one of my favorites the “icky shuffle.” The goal is to do any of these movements perfectly as quickly as possible. Start as slow as you need just do it PERFECTLY. Add speed as you learn the move and perfect it. Remember it isn’t about just going quickly. It is about doing it PERFECTLY.

Anyway, here is a little SAQ portion to do before you do your strength training.

3-5 rounds: Rest between each round. Move quickly through all three exercises.

5 Squat Jumps (or up to a box or barely off the ground depending on level)
Icky Shuffle down ladder
4 Soccer Throws each side (So overhead throw against a wall stepping forward with the same foot for 4 before switching)

All these should be done as QUICKLY as possible with good form. Try to increase your speed each time you do everything with great form.

Remember this doesn’t have to kill you. It can actually just be the end of your workout after you’ve rolled out and gotten the muscles a bit warm.

Try it. Watch how much your coordination will improve after a few weeks of just a few drills before your workout!

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