QuadruWhat?! The Benefits of moving on all fours.....
I want to talk about quadrupedal movement. Sounds pretty crazy, no?
Let me explain: if you look at how we move, it’s mostly on your two feet as normal walking, maybe with your arms swaying for counterbalance. That’s bipedal: two feet.
But as anyone who has observed babies knows, that’s not the first thing we learn. Babies don’t even think about walking, they start crawling, belly on the floor and knees down in a push-up position. Once they can push their knees off the floor and their bum in the air, babies do something like a bear crawl.
Eventually they copy us adults in walking, but why? Here’s another big word: proprioception, or the body’s unconscious sense of self and movement in space. Your balance forms a huge part of this: when you’re developing, you start to balance out and build that coordination from the center of your body out into your arms and legs.
Quadrupedal movement – yes, I know it’s hard! – is more than having fun at the gym on all fours. The benefits of a beast crawl are numerous: if you regress to all fours, you will gain a lot of strength and stability,, tighten your midline, improve your balance and coordination, and of course hit your cardio cravings.
This brings me to another lesser-known benefit: these movements are very good for the mind too. Simply, when you’re moving like this, your mind doesn’t shift: you’re all there, and it takes your whole focus not to lose your position in space.
That’s because both sides of the brain are communicating with each other to keep you moving.
Once we walk on two feet, we hardly ever go back to the first way we got around. Which is too bad because we can enter an almost flow-like state when moving through quadrupedal movements, once we’ve mastered them.
Building animal locomotion into your training regimen – moving around like a bear, crab, or lizard – is more fun than doing endless bicep curls, even though its incredibly hard when you start out.
Another side effect of this kind of movement is gaining a improved mobility, so you don’t have the tedium of static stretches. I challenge you to practice lateral traveling ape form (monkey crawl) and retest your squat: you’ll see a lot more mobility as a result.