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Locomotion is the ability to move from one place to another. Running, jumping, walking, walking under a load and crawling are all forms of human locomotion. These primal movements are part of who we are and how we are designed to move. However, locomotion is the most important form of human movement but also the most under trained. When we strive to be prepared for any emergency, we need to factor in our physical preparedness.
One of the aspects of locomotion, that I feel is the most underutilized is crawling. It’s ironic, because as children, our first form of locomotion is usually crawling.
We master it in our youth and tend to completely lose the ability to crawl as we mature.
Many of us revisit this movement pattern as we get involved with different activities. In the martial arts, especially any of the work being done on the ground, requires the ability to crawl. As a United States Marine, it seemed like our daily activity always entailed some form of crawling. Those of us that have revisited the crawling movement pattern as adults, have grown to appreciate it’s simplicity but also the value that it brings to us.
Luckily, many of us have been exposed to the benefit of crawling… But to the vast majority, especially those focused on survival; the natural ability to crawl is no longer an option. When I teach classes that revolve around this form of locomotion, newer NTC Members approach the crawl as if it is some foreign dance that they have never been exposed to. They move their bodies as if they are a bunch of segmented parts rather than one finely-tuned machine.
There is amazing value to being able to crawl proficiently. When we bring the subject over to those of us that are focused on preparedness… The biomechanics of crawling need to be a part of “gear list” so to speak. We need to master the ability to crawl and I mean all sorts of crawling. The main types of crawls that I focus on with my clients are:
- Forward Crawl
- Reverse Crawl
- Forward Crab Walks
- Reverse Crab Walks
- Lateral Crawl Left
- Lateral Crawl Right
As we progress and once again own these movements, we add in some variables that will aid us in emergency scenarios. Some drills include standing up in the middle of the crawl in order to draw a weapon. While other drills include “freezing” in the middle of the crawl in order to hone in stalking and reconnaissance attributes. This type of training is not only practical for a variety of skill building but it is also a lot of fun. At times, our classes and workshops resemble a bunch of children laughing and playing during gym class.
I want to share with you a few of my reasons why being able to crawl is a must if you want to be at the top of your game when SHTF.
Let’s Get Started!
Remain Out Of Site:
There are many times in survival situations where we will want to remain out of site from whomever else is sharing the area with us. The taller that we make ourselves, the easier that we will be noticed. Being able to remain low and crawl to your objective may be the only means of saving your life.
Obviously, stealth and noise discipline will factor greatly into successfully reaching your destination. Those attributes are partially developed by being proficient with your crawl. The less control that you have over your body, the easier that it will be to give your position away. The last thing that you want to do in that scenario is to sound like an uncoordinated mule ripping through the bush.
Being able to crawl, while out in the field, will also give you options when it comes to cover and concealment. Logs, tree stumps and high grass are all things that will help to camouflage you as you continue your mission. The more that you can blend with the ground by crawling, the easier that it will be to use the natural environment to conceal your presence.
Stalk Prey While Hunting:
Keeping with the theme of remaining out of site… Crawling is a great way to stalk prey while hunting. As we both understand, hunting may be the only viable way to get food in an emergency situation. The more that we increase our chances of remaining unseen, the greater the opportunity of being able to land a kill.
Keep in mind that practicing your crawls on a continual basis is crucial to your success rate in the field. In a hunting scenario, there are many other factors at play. A diverse set of skills need to be deployed alongside your crawling. But if you movement pattern isn’t solid, the rest of your skills may be rendered useless.
Locomotion in general requires a bit of coordination. But when it comes to crawling, we need to combine various muscle groups in order to gain a smooth and effective crawl. By refining your crawl, you are reinforcing the body’s ability to work as one unit. By coordinating individual movements into one action, you are sending valuable feedback to your nervous system. This not only makes you better at crawling but this coordination will factor in across all of your movement patterns; even while you are on your feet.
Improve Your Health:
Many of today’s “health guru’s” state that we are as healthy as our joints allow us to be. I have to say that I agree with this statement. After all, the lesser the range of motion in our joints, the more trouble that we have moving. The less we move… the older that we become. So I certainly feel that our joint mobility directly correlates to our health.
When we practices the various crawls that I previously mentioned, we are taking our joints through different ranges of motion. This keeps our joints healthy and functional; Even as we age. Health is certainly a priority when it comes to a crisis. Being able to maintain health while working on our crawling movement is a benefit that not only keeps us physically prepared but also saves us crucial time.
Interact With Children And Pets At Their Level:
As someone who teaches fitness to basically every demographic, I get to see and hear what is truly important to people. Many come to me in order to lose fat & tone their muscles. That is certainly something that I expected from day 1 of my career. What I didn’t expect were the amount of members that just want to be able to play with their children and pets. The ability to get to and from the ground, pain free, is what they seek.
Crawling is one of the methods that I teach in order for my members to achieve this goal. We begin with very basic movements and progress to the actual crawls. Once the client is comfortable with their crawling ability… A new world opens up to them. They can get on the ground and play with their child or pet!
The result of this interaction seems to be more beneficial for everyone involved. Pets and children are generally not used to us interacting with them while on the floor. It’s as if a new bond is being formed with each passing day of playing on the ground.
Improve Your Physical Fitness:
I harp on how physical fitness is the most underestimated aspect of being prepared. People generally use time as an excuse but the boredom of most exercise routines is also a culprit. When I see members make the shift from looking at crawling as exercise to looking at it as a survival skill… Something tends to click. They see and feel an immediate purpose to the work that they are performing. This keeps the motivation high as they continue on with their locomotion practice.
What’s beneficial about this paradigm shift is that building endurance and strength are by-products that are gained from practicing crawling. So in their minds, they are working on a preparedness skill -Not Actually Exercising. They continue reaping the rewards that a solid fitness routine would bring them without lessening the importance of building this skill.
Once the member is performing their crawls in a structurally sound motion, I add in high-intensity interval protocols that further enhance their fitness levels. Once again, everyone is working on a preparedness skill so the complaining remains at a minimum, while the maximum benefits are being attained. 🙂
Learn To Integrate Your Breathing:
Breathing is something that we all do; obvious statement. But breathing efficiently is something that we can all use more practice with. Our breathing patterns change with each emotion that we have. It tends to be more prevalent when we are nervous or scared.
We have been breathing our whole lives…
You figure that we would have mastered it by now. 😉
As our body performs work, our breathing changes. When we learn to combine our movement with our breath, we increase the longevity of that work cycle. As we crawl, breathing becomes a big factor in the proficiency of that locomotive movement. When we tie our breath to each step of the crawling process, the movement becomes easier. The more that we crawl, the better that we will understand our breathing capacity as well as limitations.
In a survival situation, breathing will contribute to your ability to perform work. However, the stress brought on by the emergency situation will be at ultimate heights. The ability to control and integrate your breath in these situations are imperative. The knowledge gained from your crawling practice will help you to combat the stress, so that you can think clearly..
Build Up Your Hiking Ability:
We may need to move out of foot during a crisis. As we previously discussed, this is also a form of locomotion. You will need endurance to move out for miles with all your gear on your back. By practicing your crawls, you are directly building attributes that will help you get to your destination while humping out on foot.
Crawling is reinforcing the activation of similar muscle groups that are needed for hiking. The main difference is that you will be working in a different plane of motion. When you add in the coordination as well as the core activation needed for proper crawling mechanics, crawling will greatly build up your hiking ability.
Condition Your Hands And Feet:
Toughening up the skin on your hands and feet can be a great benefit when operating under emergency conditions. You will most likely be using your hands and feet for varied tasks that are not generally performed on day to day basis. Cuts and scrapes can easily prohibit us from performing work that is needed. Conditioning your hands and feet, to take some abuse, can cut down these minor impairments.
When crawling, it is best to work on varied terrain. We never know what we are going to experience when SHTF. The more diversification in our training, the better prepared that we will be. At times we crawl on concrete, asphalt, pavers and other unforgiving materials. They are not gentle on the hands but they certainly help to toughen up the skin.
I do not recommend diving right into the tougher terrain, but with baby-steps, your hands and feet get built up with time. For extended crawling workouts, I may recommend wearing thin gloves during the locomotion practice. It’s about being smart and working within a proper safety zone. If it is painful… Then Stop!
Improve Your Appearance:
We all want to project the best image of ourselves. In a SHTF scenario, we will encounter people that we have never met before. You may require something crucial from them or you may need to join forces. Unfortunately, you may be judged by your initial appearance and your survival may depend on the outcome of that encounter.
Does the stranger see you as an asset, or a liability?
When practicing crawls, you will burn fat and tone muscle. This is yet another byproduct gained by drilling your crawling. These benefits vastly increase when you integrate your go-bag and high-intensity protocols into your training. This will not only help your physical appearance but you will also stand a bit taller. This will certainly drive others to want you as part of their team; At least initially… 😉
We started our lives with the ability to crawl. We need to maintain that freedom of movement by integrating crawls into our day to day lifestyle. Even if you go through life without ever experiencing an emergency situation, crawling will help you to maintain your youth. I mentioned a few benefits of implementing crawling into your daily practice. However, there are countless other gains that you will encounter within your own practice.
Improve your lifestyle and sure up your physical preparedness by practicing crawling. You can do it anywhere and you do not need to invest in any equipment. What’s your excuse?