By Alex Schenker, MovNat Master Trainer and MNOC Coach
With all due respect to bears, the Foot-Hand Crawl (aka the “bear crawl” exercise) is not the monopoly of bears or other animals moving on all fours. It’s a natural human movement as well. Kids do it. Adults do it. And about anybody can do it effectively, but very few people perform this crawl efficiently without a little instruction. Once you’ve nailed the technique, this movement packs a lot of benefits – both practical and physiological.
The Foot-Hand Crawl is a locomotive movement that implies support from the hands and feet with the center of gravity elevated above the ground. This is a contralateral pattern, meaning the left foot, and right hand move together. Like any other movement pattern, the Foot-Hand Crawl can be improved and mastered through mindful practice, which is at the core of the MovNat Physical Education system.
This crawl allows you to cover longer distances at a faster pace than other crawling techniques. It can enable you to balance across a narrow surface, pass over or under obstacles, and scale a steep hill with more stability and less chance of slipping than when just walking up the hill.
The Foot-Hand Crawl is a movement that engages the entire body in synchronization. The engagement of the opposite hand and foot requires stabilization of that force across the body’s midline, which engages the core in a complete and natural way. Contralateral movement engages both sides of the brain, creating new neuro-pathways that improve the connection between both hemispheres, as well as between the brain and body.
Supporting the bodyweight with the arms develops shoulder stability and mobility in a unique way. Likewise, the muscles in and around the hips are relied on to maintain balance through the movement. The interaction between the palms and the ground also develops strength, alignment, and dexterity in the hands.
These exceptional physiological benefits are one of the reasons why many modern fitness programs include “bear crawls” in the mix.
This video is intended to be a simple guide to some of the important basics of the technique, common inefficiencies and progressions for this skill. Crawling is a deeply detailed skill with so much more to it than fits in this video. But beyond learning the basics, practice is what is most important. So, please enjoy this video, and I hope you can find something that you can apply to your own practice.
About the Author
Alex Schenker is a MovNat Master Trainer, Martial Arts Instructor, Movement Therapist, and the creator of Natural Mobility. His approach emphasizes restoring and maintaining the natural state of our human bodies, reconnecting with the evolutionary movement aptitudes of our species, as well as stimulating our own natural healing capabilities through corrective exercise. Alex coaches people privately, and teaches regular weekly MovNat & Combatives classes in Toronto, Canada. Follow him on Instagram: @naturalmobility.
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