Army Crawls (Crocodile Waddles)

Crocodile or Army Crawls are an amazing, but difficult, exercise to get your vestibular system engaged and also begin to develop the midline crossing movements that are so important to efficient walking, running, and nearly all athletic movements, including golf. The cross-crawl pattern can be developed in any number of positions from lying on your back or stomach, on your hands and knees to standing.

Most of us performed the Army Crawl as infants, some of us had more time in this phase than others, but will be amazed had how incredibly difficult this movement is with our untrained body.

In order to have true efficiency at the Army Crawl you must have sufficient hip flexion, external rotation and abduction, spinal control, shoulder flexion, control of your shoulder blade and overall core strength and endurance. One of the great aspects of the Army Crawl is that it enlightens the participant to many of the areas they are deficient; whether strength, mobility, or motor control is the issue.

This exercise does a fantastic job at stimulating nerve endings in the feet, hands, shoulders, hips and spine called mechanoreceptors, golgi tendon organs, muscle spindles, Meissners and Pacinian corpuscles. Activation of these receptors, in conjunction with improvements in the vestibular system, results in reflexive core musculature activation.

This means your body both activates and turns off (inhibits) the appropriate body parts under a specific challenge

It is this improvement in the reflexive core musculature that actually enables more effective motor control leading to the enhancement in stability that is desired within the spinal stabilizers / core.

This is an exercise you can not fake your way through. If you are doing the Army Crawls inefficiently you will be completely aware of it. Improve your body’s function and you will be conscious of the improvements you make as your efficiency with this exercise improves.

We will break down the key pieces to this exercise below and then take you through the full movement.

Video 1: In this video we are showing the range and action of the hip as it moves the leg into flexion. This moves sets up the leg drive aspect of the movement.

Video 2: In this video we illustrate the 2 possible arm actions for this exercise. The first is the desired movement and the second is a variation that can be used to get you started until you can create the desired movement with the first arm variation shown.

Video 3: This is the Crocodile or Army Crawl

Spend some time experiencing how your body is responding during your attempts at this exercise. The ore you participate in this movement the greater your understanding of your body’s abilities and deficiencies becomes. Do your hips move well? Can you stabilize your pelvis to create a strong anchor for your pelvis and spine to move from through a full range of motion? Is it easier for you to move if you shorten your hip motion or arm motion? Do you feel like your arms were able to anchor into the ground and pull efficiently or were your shoulders restricted in their range of motion or ability to provide an effective anchor?

Final Thoughts:

We will move into our Mammal Section with the next entry and look at the following exercises:

  • Quadruped arm and leg on hands and knees and the variations2. Core activation in a push up position3. Opposite arm and leg from a push up position4. Bear Crawls forward5. Bear Craws backwards

Take home points:

  • Cross-crawl pattern can be developed in any number of positions from lying on your back or stomach, on your hands and knees to standing;
  • One of the great aspects of the Army Crawl is that it enlightens the participant to many of the areas they are deficient; whether strength, mobility, or motor control is the issue;
  • It is the improvement in the reflexive activity within the core musculature that actually enables more effective motor control leading to the enhancement in stability that is desired within the spinal stabilizers / core;
  • Hip action in the army crawl;
  • 2 types of arm action in army crawl;
  • Army Crawl demonstration.

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