Movement as Medicine: Crawling first will help you walk better later

Do you recall the old proverb that says, “You have to crawl before you can walk?”

I’m here to suggest that even as an adult, you may want to consider crawling. You crawled as a toddler before you learn to walk. Now crawling as an adult may help you walk better on the beaches and cobblestones of Puerto Vallarta.

Many movement coaches and trainers, and their students, are recognizing the benefits of crawling. Baseball player Denard Span includes crawling in his strength and conditioning training. He knows that crawling helps him with baseball movements like throwing and batting.

Crawling can help you move better, too. And it’s easy and familiar. It requires no props. You can crawl in the privacy of your own home.

Crawling is an important building block for other movement skills, including walking. It requires the coordination of the left and right sides of the brain. It requires reciprocal movement of the limbs. It requires the ability to stabilize and mobilize joints. It involves core work.

When you start to move, one hand and then the opposite knee (or foot), you work your shoulders and your hips. You reset the central loop in your nervous system. This reset synchronizes coordination, movement and reflexive (subconscious) stability. Crawling improves your balance.

Crawling on your hands and knees is the basic crawling movement. That’s called the “baby crawl”. You can also crawl on your hands and feet, with your knees 1 to 2 inches off the ground. That’s called a “bear crawl”.

A bear crawl is harder but it is easier on the knees. If your knees bother you when you baby crawl, you can also try wearing knee pads or crawling on a cushioned surface. A blanket or even on your bed.

If crawling bothers your wrist, shoulders, or neck, you may want to postpone crawling. Work on those issues first.

If you do practice crawling, do it with awareness for best results. Plan and notice where you are going to place your hand and then your knee. Focus on your balance. A recent study found that this kind of dynamic movement improved the short-term memory by 50%!

Summing it up:

Crawling is an easy movement. It will help you get ready to walk on the beaches and cobblestones of Puerto Vallarta. Crawling with awareness will improve your short-term memory! Try it and let me know what happens!

[Medical disclaimer: This article is for education and information only. It is not a substitute for a doctor’s opinion.]

Here are the steps for baby crawling

Baby Crawl

1. Start on your hands and knees (quadruped). Place your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.

2. Keep your back flat and straight.

3. Lift your head only as high as you necessary to see where you are going but no farther.

4. Breathe in. Breathe out. Become aware of your breath.

6. Move your right hand and left foot 2 to 3 inches forward.

7. Move with awareness. Plan and notice where you are going to place your hand and then your knee.

8. Repeat with your left hand and right foot.

9. Continue this alternating pattern 3, 6, 9 times as you crawl forward.

10. Continue this alternating pattern 3, 6, 9 times as you crawl backward.

11. Continue this alternating pattern 3, 6, 9 times as your crawl sideways in one direction. And then the other direction.

12. When you finish, pause and ask yourself, “How do I feel?”

Via Anderson, E-RYT, is a Yoga and movement coach and teaches the Intelligent Movement Forever system of healthy movement in a weekly online class, in private sessions, and at Yoga Vallarta during the high season. This 77-year-old grandmother practices what she preaches and teaches. She is the author of “How to Move Without Pain: A Compendium of Intelligent Movement”, to be released in 2019.