As a stranger to ‘Functional Natural Movement’ I wouldn’t be surprised if you have such a question pop up in your mind as ‘Why would I want to crawl around like an animal?’
From an onlookers point of view it may look strange however crawling or I should quadrupedal exercises comes in all forms and styles.
Yoga has asanas (postures) that include – dog, cat, camel and table. Gym workouts of all forms will have you on all 4’s doing exercises such as press ups and squat thrusts. Pilates will have you doing the ‘Fire hydrant’ and ‘Donkey Kicks’ and lots more. Obstacle Course Challenges to crawl under, over and around obstacles.
Each of the above exercises are used to isolate and develop specific muscles and/or ranges of movement.
So why crawl?
Crawling exercises in Wild Forest Gym are different because they are not static as in its name. Crawling means literally on the move. When you start to bring motion into an exercise it starts to train the body and mind very differently. It starts to work you on a multilateral level both physically and mentally.
This means it brings variants, multilateral training, mind training and adaptability into the equation.
For instance when in the woodland areas you have variations in:
- The terrain i.e. gradient and unevenness of the ground.
- Obstacles to move across, under, over and around such as branches, tree trunks, undergrowth.
- Textures under your hands and feet i.e. leaves, twigs, stones and bark.
- Weather & temperature affects what we feel inside our bodies and our sense of touch to obstacles, textures and terrain.
- Limb positions from one arm or foot movement to the next.
Static v’s Movement Exercises
Lets take the standard press up and compare it to the crocodile stalk. Principally they are the same exercise. For instance you can learn to do 25 press-ups, even 50 or more. But think for a moment of the repetitive aspect to press ups. Your alignment and range of movement is precise. Any good trainer or coach will tell you that technique and repetition is what it is all about. They are right.
Whereas as the crocodile stalk uses the principal of lowering the body like a press-up however after each press up, we move one or both hands into a different position. So for instance we will move the right hand in line with the hip before lowering the body. Then we push back up. Next we start bringing movement in using the feet. Keeping the spine and legs straight we shuffle forward with our feet and then move the left hand say to a wide position away form the body but in line with midway up the ribs. Then when we lower ourselves. Each time we lower the body it uses the muscles and the mind differently. This is multilateral training. It makes every element to every exercise variable.
Multilateral Training Benefits
Strength is the obvious benefit you get from such functional movements as crocodile stalk, bear crawl, crab walk, frog jumps and lateral crawls. The motion in such functional movement exercises start to develop your:
- Awareness of, and how to use gravity to move you forward by adjusting your general centre of mass (GCM).
- Balance skills particularly as obstacles, terrain and change in limb positions places different demands on you.
- Co-ordination skills where bear crawls require you to move your right hand and left foot together, and vica versa.
- Endurance levels with the need to cover s distance of travel whilst maintaining form.
- Reflexes to the variable aspects of the uneveness of the terrain i.e. slippery mud and tree roots.
- Agility skills which is the combination of balance, coordination, speed, reflexes, strength and endurance.
Implications on a mind level is what needs to be considered with every element of every functional natural movement exercise. Everything that we learn physically has an affect on us mentally whether it is emotional, psychophysical, spiritual or intellectual.
None of these elements exist in isolation. Every aspect of co-ordination, agility, reflex, balance, strength or endurance is just as important on the mind. Literally doing natural movement techniques fires up the neurons on a mind level.
What these exercises are bringing into the equation is the ability to adapt. Functional natural movement exercises such as crawling exercises teaches us to adapt physically. Because every element to the woodland causes us to adapt position, support, movement. Adapt to the environment we are in. Adapt to the obstacles.
Similarly continuing on form what we discussed about the mind it teaches us to adapt mentally. And we are not just talking about when you are at Wild Forest Gym. We are talking about in your home life, work life, relationship and even down to money.
Finally and not forgetting about nature. You have a very different perspective when you lower yourself to the ground. You see, hear, feel things as each finger or toe comes into contact with the ground and its coating. You become more observant and you get to see things that you would otherwise walk over in your shoes with little interest or regard.
If you haven’t done an Obstacle Course Challenge you need to be prepared for the amount of time you will spending on all 4’s whether it is crawling, pulling, pushing or lifting your body, through, over, under and around obstacles. In other situations the terrain will be too difficult to even stand, walk or run. So you need to develop your hand and foot skills and strengths to deal with the unknown and unknowable aspect to obstacle course challenges.
Let me know what your favourite quadrupedal exercise or crawl and why by posting your comment below.
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