Strength From Within With Perry Nickelston
We learn to develop the strength of these systems at an early age without even realizing it. We all learned how to move as babies by lying on our backs. The curiosity of the world abounded and we looked everywhere soaking it all in like a sponge. Touching, feeling, moving, tasting, and crying are some of the ways we learn body awareness. If you wanted a toy out of your reach you set a goal to get it. Your brain and nervous system coordinated the strength of movement to help you reach that toy.
You see the toy. You want the toy. You reach for the toy. You roll towards the toy. You crawl towards the toy. You get the toy. It’s not an easy journey by any means. It takes a long time to get there progressing through each phase. You have to earn your strength to accomplish the task.
How can we use this early developmental, coordinated teamwork to improve your strength today?
You don’t have to be a world class athlete or hardcore fitness junkie to develop strength. You can use these early movement principles to improve the strength of mind and body no matter your station in life. Going back to the fundamentals is most often the strategy to overcoming sticking points or plateaus. Regress back to simplicity instead of progressing forward into difficulty.
So let’s get back down to the ground and do some crawling.
The act of crawling ignites the coordination and timing patterns of all the muscles in the body. It’s a movement that everyone at one point has done in their lives, they just stopped. It may be surprisingly difficult to do this exercise, however, stick with it and watch your technique. The benefits of this movement will transcend to all other aspects of your movement when moving on two feet.
You will be combining the goal and task objectives of the brain by crawling towards an object.[bctt tweet=”Remember, strength comes from obtaining a goal.” username=””]
Get down on the ground with hands and knees. Hands should be below the shoulders, knees below the hips, and the ankles relaxed. Choose a target in the distance and set your eyes on it. Begin crawling by using the SAME side arm and leg and then the other. So start with the right arm and leg and then use left arm and leg. Lift the leg and arm at the same time and return back to the ground at the same time. This is unilateral crawling and will help ignite anti-rotational patterns. Keep looking at your target and crawl to the goal.
Once there you will now crawl backward towards the starting position the same way. Change your eye line to look down at the floor, keeping your neck in a neutral (straight position, no bending). Perform the same unilateral pattern backward. Once you feel strong and efficient with this pattern begin doing a cross body crawl. Choose your target. Use right arm and left leg and left arm right leg. Always keep your eye on the goal. Reverse the crawl looking down at the ground with a neutral neck. Now transition to a frontal plane (side crawl). Hands and knees on the ground. Begin with unilateral movements first and choose a target to concentrate on.
Frontal plane crawling left. Turn your head left and look at the target. Use the left arm and left leg simultaneously then use the right arm and leg. Continue until the goal is reached. Now reverse the direction. Look to the right and go back. Now transition into contralateral frontal plane crawls. Use left leg and right arm then right leg, left arm.
This will take some effort for your brain to process initially and relearn this pattern. Be patient. To make each form of crawling more challenging keep your knees off of the ground during each pattern. This means you will now have to dorsiflex (extend/bend) the ankles so the toes are on the ground.
Once knees are off the ground your core will be on fire. Remember with all forms of crawling, do not hold your breath.
Breathe normally. Holding your breath is a sign of instability and means the movement is too difficult for your nervous system to perform without cheating.
Monitor your breathing. The great thing about crawling is that almost everyone can do it. It’s challenging and fun. In the beginning, you may feel awkward and silly, but stick with it and don’t quit. Having fun when training is a part of long-term success. See and feel the strength benefits of going back to primal patterns and controlling your own bodyweight.