With an ever changing industry in health and fitness we see new innovative methods arising everyday. People are beginning to letting their minds go and starting to explore the creativity we were meant to express through movement and culture. Some are fascinating and unique, while others are just comical. A newer trend in this industry is the use of older methods that may have been pushed to the wayside, such as the values of physical education in the 1960’s and 70’s and the use of historic and cultural movements such as clubs and maces. We are going to explore movements that go back to the beginning of the human race, primal patterns that no one person created, but all have experienced at some point during their development.
The crawling patterns that we develop as an infant are crucial building blocks for our motor programming system. This motor programming system is a part of our central nervous system (the brain and the spinal cord) that intimately interacts with the peripheral nervous system (all other nerves). This symbiotic relationship is the mojo for our flow. But as we know cute little babies do not start crawling right away, there is a process or a systematic progression that they go through before crawling, walking, running, etc.
Insert Cute Baby…
Above we see baby Bohden moving through the progressive steps. Beginning on his belly he starts to prop himself up, to not only see the world around him but also support his upper body in an effort to get higher and reduce the amount of work the neck muscles need to achieve to see his environment. There is a number of action items taking place, but what we want to focus on are his shoulder. Here we start to experience the early stages of shoulder strength development and motor programming, which we can see as Bohden supports his upper body on his arms in front of him. This position is one that we tend to use for many shoulder pain patients, as it reinforces proper glenohumeral or shoulder positioning, with relatively minimal body weight to support.
To expedite the article we have chosen to skips a few step, although each step is just as crucial, especially rolling patterns. In this blog we want to simply focus on crawling.
Tim Anderson of Original Strength highlights many of the crawling progressions and how to use them in a corrective exercise setting, as well as performance setting. Below we see Steve in a very familiar position as baby Bohden, with the functional position of the shoulder joint highlighted in an adult. Notice the shoulders are pushed down away from the ears and not pulled upward.
As the infant begins to gather strength, stability, and balance through the upper extremities, their legs start to push underneath their hips to now prop up the lower portion of their bodies. The entirety of their body is now supported by the shoulder and hip joints. Through gravitational forces and in an effort to remain in this position or attempt to move forward the joints and supporting musculature will continue to be strengthened. This quadruped position is a very popular rehabilitation starting point, because it is a key step for those learning how to crawl, we can help reset the adult system by reverting back to a familiar starting point to teach them how to regain proper motor control.
A whole new world has just opened up for your baby and they are eager as ever to go out and see what it has in store for them. If you recall we skipped over rolling patterns to move straight into crawling, but what we forgot to mention is how rolling patterns are involved in the crawling process. In order for an infant to move from their back to their tummy to start crawling they must roll sideways. This movement develops not only the required motor programming, but also the underlying core strength seen in the obliquely oriented core muscles. These same slings of muscles connect the shoulder to the opposite hip. As we begin to examine the cross crawl movement pattern, we notice how the opposite shoulder and hips are either moving together and stabilizing together. Thus, these core muscles initiated through rolling patterns come into play again when we begin to crawl, and will continue to be strengthened as the child challenges various positions, balance, and speeds.
As we can see there are a number of benefits to the infant in terms of motor programming and strength for the shoulders, hips, and core.
Why should adults start crawling?
Well, for all of the same reasons, to develop shoulder and hip strength/stability, core stability, and motor programming. In our world today, where we are seated glued to the computer or the phone we are losing these fundamental principles that we worked so hard as an infant to achieve. As our movement capabilities deteriorate and our shoulder and hip health soften, we see an increase in pain not only in these structures but many of the surrounding structures that now must work overtime.
There are various methods to begin your own crawling movements, as well as a number of companies out there that have developed fun and engaging programs that help you explore your body.
Part 2 of Crawling Does The Body Good, we will explore some of the different crawling movements and the benefits that they hold while diving deeper into the specific adaptation we are trying to achieve.