How many times have we all been told that in order to embrace a bright shining future, we must let go of the past? That to move forward with freedom and ease, we must break old habits and patterns, and read everything on the Oprah book list? Well put down your self-help books ladies and gentlemen, because today we will be reclaiming one of our oldest patterns to shape a future of greater strength/mobility, improved coordination, better connectivity between right and left brain hemispheres and a beautifully anchored mind-body connection. (Pause for dramatic effect…) Yes, I am talking about crawling!
Cross-crawl movements (connecting opposite arm and leg) and crawling have the same benefits for you as an adult as they once did for you as a developing child. Crawling is a core developmental pattern that creates neural pathways and efficient communication between the left and right hemispheres in the brain.* In addition, “it integrates your vestibular system(your balance system), your proprioceptive system (your sense of self in space), and your visual system.” These movements are so powerful and effective that they are key exercises in the Brain Gym program developed by Dr. Paul Dennison. The program uses cross-crawl movements to help both children and adults overcome the effects of dyslexia, difficulty focusing, and other learning disabilities.
Now, I know some of you might be thinking “well that’s very interesting Sara, but I like my neural pathways just the way they are, where is the strength and mobility you promised?” No matter where you are on your health and fitness journey, there is a variation for you. Cross-crawl movements can be done seated, standing, lying down, crawling like a baby, or for a huge challenge, crawling with the knees elevated. Depending upon the variation, cross-crawl and crawling exercises can create tremendous strength in the obliques, rectus abdominus, transverse abdominus, psoas, pectoralis major/minor, deltoids rhomboids, lattisimus dorsi, erector spinae, glutes and that’s just to name a few!
Tim Anderson, coach and author of Original Strength, explains that “the greatest benefit to crawling is that it builds a foundation of reflexive strength…Your reflexive strength, also known as your reflexive stability, is your body’s ability to anticipate movement before it happens and/or reflexively react to movement as it happens…Your reflexive strength is your foundation of strength. If you are lacking reflexive strength, you cannot be as strong and as mobile as you are meant to be.”
As a leading force for mind-body education and learning how to “live better in your body,” Yoga Tune Up® is full of brain nourishing and body integrating cross-crawl exercises. Come back on Friday to learn how to execute two of my absolute favorites: Frog Crawls and Double Bicycle, and be prepared to sweat your way to brilliance. In the mean time, take a little trip down memory lane and try some baby crawls. Have fun, and let me know what you feel!
*Tim Anderson “Original Strength”, Xulon Press 2013