Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Benefits of the Bear Crawl

I can still recall the hatred I had for the Bear Crawl exercise in full football pads during August high school practice.  We used to start each practice with agility/warm up sessions with two cones ten yards apart.  The only drill I still remember with great disdain is the bear crawl.  Why?  It was hard, uncomfortable and when you do it all out, super taxing.  I was a fast sprinter.  Slow bear crawler.

Lately, I've been reading a lot about the Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization technique.  Really cool stuff.  Pavel Kolars work.  To dumb it down, they look at the bodies innate reflexes that we all are born with. Baby has no problem crawling and squatting and reaching and rolling.   Pain, posture and bad exercise selection can start to mess with these reflexes and we lose the ability to squat, lunge, reach ect.

By relearning some basic moves we are carving out better movement and pain free movement.

Back to crawling.  When was the last time you did a crawl?  It may have been high school for me.  I know I'm going to start playing around with them again.  It will reinforce cross crawl patterns and provide some core work and shoulder stability.  Regardless, there are performance carry overs.

I asked Stuart McMillan about it.  Stu is a tremendously smart strength coach that works in the UK with their track and field federation.  He works with the worlds best, 10 seconds 100 meter guys.  He uses it to increase work capacity.  The video below is them towing a sled.  How's that for a kicker, hard made harder.  It builds the work capacity without sacrificing quality of your next day efforts.  Sleds are great in that they are concentric exercises so you don't get sore.  He also stated you can't neglect the mental aspects of it.  It's hard and builds that tenacity, won't quit spirit.

Insert the bear crawl back into your exercise rotation.  Even if it's just part of your warm up, I think you will find some athletic and movement benefits from it.    PS:  Keep a look out for Stu's Blog to be hitting the internet soon!


Matteo Corvino said...

I am an Italian physical coach. I am very interesting in this exercise (bear crawl). I think that instead of the use of a pulling, the use of an elastic of 5-6 meters, that also in the return part of the exercise continues to make a traction, is better. In this way the hamstrings muscle will be contract in an eccentric way, a type of contraction very important in a injuries prevention view. What do you think about this?

Jason Ross said...

I agree that the use of an elastic band will cause an eccentric contraction for the hamstring muscles. This is good or bad. Good if that is the required stimulus. Bad if you're using bear crawls as additional volume. You would be able to do sprint work the next day, where is if you have eccentric component, chances are the athletes will be pretty sore and may hinder further training.

Matteo Corvino said...

Thank you for you answer. I work with soccer and handball team, and in these sports the great part of injuries are on the hamstrings, in particular due to the fact that during training these muscles are not stimulated in eccentric way, tha same contraction that cause injuries. So I use drills with the eccentric contraction of hamstring for principal stimulus for example during the training of Wendsday, with the championship match on Sunday, and the next day usually players play half time of a friendly match with a lower level team.