Next up in our series of “things we like” is a little something different-but not really. Until now, we’ve talked about actual implements for fitness. Those things that are man made to help us achieve our desired results. Sure the sandbag and the kettlebell are some of what we feel to be ‘ultimate fitness tools’, but what about the absolute number one thing that we have that doesn’t cost us a penny? What about the best “piece” of fitness equipment ever presented? What am I referring to??? Our own BODIES of course!
You may or may not believe it, but no matter who you are, you’ve been born with the best tool that you could ever imagine for helping you to reach health and wellness without having to spend a dime on external equipment. Our bodies are marvelous machines that can do amazing things. All it takes is a little creativity and minimal space and you can have some of the best workouts you’ve ever dreamed possible.
Let’s start out our body weight training talk with crawling. Crawling is one of the most basic and fundamental movements we make as humans. After all, we have to learn to “crawl before we can walk” right? We’ll get into the more “glamorous” movements like push-ups and squats in later posts, but in focusing first on the crawl, we build the strength and stamina needed for those more complex movements. Just as well, we also reinforce important movement patterns that will help us be better movers and shakers once we’re back to our normal, everyday bipedal selves!
The crawl is a simple movement (I mean, c’mon, babies do it!), but there are important elements that come into play. Placing only the hands and feet in contact with the ground (imagine a down dog position in yoga), bend your knees until your back becomes parallel with the ground. In this position, your hands should be underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips. If this isn’t the case, adjust yourself accordingly.
From here, we’re ready to begin movement. With your head in a neutral position and eyes gazing forward to a spot about 45 degrees ahead, begin to “walk” using your right hand and left leg together. You’re next “steps” should be your left hand and right leg. Continue this pattern for as long as you intend to go forward or backward! This opposite hand-leg combination is called contralateral movement. This is exactly how our body is intended to move, regardless of whether we’re on all fours or only on our feet. The spine rotates and your midsection becomes engaged. This rotation gives us incredible strength and energy. If you look at any efficient athlete, whether it be a marathon runner or an olympic shot putter, their rotational energy gives them strength and endurance.
So what can the crawl do for those of us who aren’t competing on the olympic stage or playing football on TV¬†on Sunday¬†afternoon? Plenty of course! By getting down on all fours and moving like we did shortly after entering this world, we are re-inforcing rotational patterns that make everything else easier! This past week Anne and I were out clearing vines and brush on our property. I used a machete to get through some of the thicker stuff and guess what I was using!? Rotational energy through contralateral movement! How about going for a hike? Well guess what, you’re going to be swinging your arms in conjunction with your legs the same as you would when you’re crawling! Don’t believe me, just try and walk with your right arm and right leg striding together and vise versa. Sure it can be done, but you’re going to be incredibly energy IN-efficient, not to mention look a little strange to anyone watching!
So that’s the crawl: a simple yet dynamic movement that you can use to improve various aspects of your everyday life. In a world of “functional fitness” this movement truly stands out as one of the best. Give it a try and see how you do!