Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
30 Apr

Crawling, Balancing, Rolling: The Importance of Practicing Natural Movements

StrongmadesimpleTracyThis is a guest post from Tracy Barksdale co-founder of True Nature Training. Tracy will be presenting at The Primal Blueprint Transformation Seminar and True Nature Training in Austin and Houston, Texas this coming May 4th and 5th.

My job is essentially to get people to have fun. I am a MovNat Natural Movement Certified Trainer and Parkour coach at True Nature Training who uses play and unconventional programming to get people active without realizing they are getting a workout. It’s so common to get stuck in our fitness routines. Push ups, pull ups, squats, and sprints are all obvious choices for a primal fitness program, but when we get bored or hit a plateau it can help to widen your repertoire to introduce new things. In many cases, this great “new thing” is actually very old. Natural movement is a movement philosophy with a set of principles defined and popularized by Erwan Le Corre, founder of MovNat, and based on natural human movements that we have evolved doing. Our ancestors had to crawl, climb, run, jump and more just to survive. Yet with our modern luxuries, we often don’t find ourselves needing to do these things as often. It’s not uncommon to hear someone proclaim with a hint of pride that they have not climbed a tree since they were kids, like it’s a sign of being a mature adult. Natural movements are not just for kids or those who are already active. Natural movement belongs to every human being, and it’s your duty to maintain proficiency in these practical movements because you never know when you may need to use them. Here are some movements that can benefit anyone regardless of age or fitness level.

Crawling

Crawling is amazing. You connect to the earth, it’s a whole body movement, and it requires coordination. Babies instinctively crawl yet once walking is established, crawling is rarely used. Quadrupedal movements (moving on all fours) have many practical applications. Crawling can be used for getting under something low like a table or car, avoiding a dangerous situation where you might need to duck and get out low and quick, or just lowering your center of gravity while on an unstable surface.

crawl

Let’s look at a basic bear crawl. To begin, start on the ground on your hands and knees. Your hands should be directly under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Bring your heels up so you can use your toes to move. Next, apply pressure in your hands and pop your knees off the ground around 4 inches. Your back should be roughly parallel to the ground. You want to maintain this level throughout your crawl. To begin crawling, move in a contralateral pattern (opposite hand and foot.) Move your right hand forward and left foot forward at the same time.  Then switch. Left hand forward, right foot forward. Look in front of you to see where you are going, but only lift your head as much as necessary to see. Be careful not to let your knees flare out to the side. To make sure your knees are properly aligned, keep your knee in line with your elbow.

Balancing

Balancing is a skill that is rarely practiced yet is another very practical movement. The elderly especially can benefit from balance work, but why wait till you’re old? Train balance now because you never know when you may need to use it. Balancing is really the state of not falling. You’re balancing when you’re standing, when you’re lying down, and when you’re walking on a ledge. It’s about being in control of your body positioning.

To practice balance, find a curb outside or grab a couple 2x4s to put in your house. Stand on the surface, find a tall proper posture, and look forward, not down. Use your feet (preferably bare feet) to feel your surface before you take a step. Keep your knees “soft” meaning not straight, but not completely bent. Keeping a slight bend in the knees allows for more control and encourages adjustments to be made in your knees, ankles and feet instead of flailing your arms to get balance which tends to be a waste of energy. Practice balancing forward, backward, sideways, crawling and any other ways you can imagine. Oh, and remember to breathe! Many people revert to shallow breathing or hold their breath while balancing. Make sure to practice diaphragmatic breathing at all times while balancing.

Rolling

When is the last time you rolled in the grass? Forward roll, barrel roll, backward roll? Besides being a fun and playful skill, it can also be a very practical skill to have. Rolling can be used to absorb impact when jumping from something high, or in case of tripping, rolling is often a better option than hitting the ground. Rolling requires coordination and is an excellent tool to further develop the vestibular system. For example, if you were in a situation where you needed to balance over something high, narrow and scary, you could very likely be under a lot of pressure and you could feel dizzy. Training the vestibular system further ensures that you are prepared for possible real world situations.

To begin rolling, a movement pattern must first be established before being used in combination with falls and depth jumps. To get started, kneel down on one knee, hips up, not sitting on your back foot. Place your hands side by side flat on the floor next to your foot. Move your hands away from your foot and forward so that you are set up similar to the first picture below.

Next, twist your hands away from your front foot and look at your back foot in the same direction your hands are pointed, tucking your chin and getting your head out of the way to roll as in the second photo.

roll1 roll2

Last, push through your back foot raising your hips in the air. Your head should be out of the way from looking at your foot, and you are prepared to roll directly onto the shoulder. Keep pushing until you must roll over your shoulder. Do not roll over your neck or head.

When you come out of the roll, you should pass over the opposite hip as the shoulder your rolled on.

To finish, you should end in the same position you started in. So if you began with your right knee up, you should end in that position.

Check out this video sequence to see what I mean:

Play

Although technique is of course very important, it’s also vital that you have fun. It’s okay to jump around on rocks or climb some trees without thinking about the mechanics and exact techniques you should be using. Just remember Law #9 and Avoid Stupid Mistakes. Go outside with your kids or grab some friends and play tag. If you aren’t enjoying yourself and having fun, you won’t stick to it. Incorporating play into your movement practice is just as vital as working out and eating right. Play helps reduce stress, encourage movement, and in turn helps keep you refreshed and motivated to eat right. So make sure to do what you enjoy, laugh at yourself when you mess up, and get creative in whatever environment you find yourself in whether it be your office, a park, your house or the gym.

These movements can help you round out your training or even help you get moving again. Let your world be your playground and find ways to move everywhere. Hand rails, curbs, rocks, and playground equipment are all great opportunities for movement. Look to your community for natural movement practitioners or better yet, come join me for a Primal Blueprint Transformation Seminar. I’ll be teaching natural movement using the MovNat coaching methodology and this is an excellent way to get an introduction or refresher.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. I can see the Primal logic here but as far as this portion of the Primal arena goes I think I’ll pass.

    Groktimus Primal wrote on April 30th, 2013
  2. great post, Groktimus, like anyone cares.

    Dan wrote on April 30th, 2013
    • This is a section for comments. That was a comment.

      Given, so was yours, but that wasn’t nice. Be nice.

      Nicole wrote on April 30th, 2013
      • I second that.

        tkm wrote on April 30th, 2013
      • Thank You, Nicole

        G wrote on April 30th, 2013
      • +1

        Stace wrote on April 30th, 2013
      • Personally I find useless comments more annoying than mean ones.

        Mikey wrote on August 24th, 2013
  3. > When is the last time you rolled in the grass

    I rolled on the living room floor two days ago, just to check whether I can still do a proper roll (I am a former volley player, rolling is important not to get hurt and also to be immediately ready to play, after a difficult catch).

    primal_alex wrote on April 30th, 2013
    • I used to take primary school groups around a National Trust property. In the afternoons they were supposed to have a “Nature Trail” but mostly we did running races up the Lime Walk and rolling down the grassy hill. That finished I got them looking for bugs where they lay in the grass. End result happy kids…. and as many of these groups came from the inner city, the teachers too thought it much more useful than formal “teaching” of names of plants on a trail.

      Sally wrote on April 30th, 2013
    • Funny you mention rolling in the grass I’m literally in the runway at OHare flying back to San Diego from my hometown in the Midwest.

      While home I made a point to go walk in the woods and get barefoot in the grass, lay down, a few push ups and handstands were done which ultimately lead to rolling in the grass.

      Sure San Diego has grass but its just not the same as thick Midwest grass! ;)

      Luke wrote on April 30th, 2013
    • This has nothing to do with being primal and everything to do with volleyball…but did you know they aren’t teaching the roll anymore? It’s all about the sprawl now haha but even so I still do it all the time when I play. Old habits die hard. ;)

      Stace wrote on April 30th, 2013
  4. I think even if you don’t follow all these religiously they are great additions now and again. Fun, natural ways to switch it up or add an additional level of intensity to your usual routine.

    Nick wrote on April 30th, 2013
    • This post basically describes how I get a lot of my exercise: moving around, surmounting obstacles, and some extra climbing/balancing (for balancing, I recommend walking on trees or their branches). I’ve barely worked out at all in months, even a couple years, compared to how I used to train. I’m not that strong, not ripped, far from a body builder, but all the natural stuff has me capable of traversing my habitat easily.
      I think natural movement should be the base of any primal exercise plan.. sounds irrefutably reasonable, doesn’t it?

      Animanarchy wrote on April 30th, 2013
      • I recall that you built the teepee that is your avatar. I’m curious, what is your habitat?

        Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on April 30th, 2013
        • The last time I camped out in a teepee, I recall the habitat being cold. ;)

          (No seriously, the particular teepee I slept in had a terrible draft. I’m sure it helped with the fire, but it was a real stink-a-roo when trying to sleep.)

          Amy wrote on April 30th, 2013
        • I live in south central Ontario, Simcoe region. Close to the city of Barrie, where I stay or visit sometimes and swim in Lake Simcoe, but generally I abide in a small rural town just a bit South of there. There are big rolling hills, some flat land – lots of fields – also a lot of forests or patches of forest or wild land.. basically, a lot of variety. Some of the forests are fairly sparse or open and seem quite tame while others are very tangled and dense. It’s one of the latter I’ve been staying in lately, so I have to move in a variety of ways to get through it – climbing or hopping things, ducking/crawling, stepping or jumping from log to log for example. Occasionally, if the plants in my way are really dense or I’m feeling impatient or in a rush (or maybe wired), I’ll just bulldoze through. I could avoid all that and stick to the easy areas but I like the randomness of it and how it forces it me to get exercise just by travel. There are small rivers, streams, some ponds, a small lake, and some marshy areas.
          For seasons, the winter can get really cold (in my opinion) – I remember a lot of days when I was younger the thermometer would read around -30C and I think it actually showed -39C once, though the winters seem to have been getting warmer. This past winter it usually didn’t get much lower than -6C, and sort of hovered at -5C. Still cold, I felt, as I was outside for most of it, often had a numb face and hands [that were slow and uncoordinated) and feet and got mild frostbite in my feet while sleeping, but it was quite manageable if uncomfortable sometimes. I bundled up heavily and slept under a pile of sheets and blankets. The warmer months get quite warm sometimes. I think in the summer 25C is about average for a warm day with the temperature sometimes reaching a bit over 30C, which feels to me like a kiln, though right at the start of the warmer weather 15C seems hot to me. In the second half of March and through April the weather this year was all over the place – sometimes I’d feel toasty during the day and then it would drop below freezing at night. So earlier under another post when I claimed to live in a cold climate I suppose that wasn’t entirely accurate – it really depends on dress and shelter and the time of year and how much time spent outside.

          Animanarchy wrote on May 9th, 2013
  5. next–Parkour? I’m in awe of those guys. I’d love to just roll out of a controlled fall from a 2nd story window, but just can’t see doing that while Avoiding Stupid Mistakes. Not that anyone cares, Dan, just sayin

    Tom B-D wrote on April 30th, 2013
    • Yep, watching someone like Tim Shieff do his thing is pretty amazing.

      greggrok wrote on May 1st, 2013
    • Parkour is for morons. Most end up injured. EXTREME

      Jimmy wrote on May 2nd, 2013
  6. I heard a saying once that goes like this: “If you want to lose weight, just follow your 3-year old around all day and do what he does.”

    And now I know it’s true. :)

    gunderson wrote on April 30th, 2013
    • Yup. :-) I’ve got a 1, a 3, and a 5 year old. Even on nasty cold days when we’re stuck inside, I get a work out following them around. Quiet time isn’t so much for them as it is for me to recover a little!

      eema.gray wrote on April 30th, 2013
      • Fun for a kid: being on top of a snowman! You don’t need to anthropomorphize it if you don’t want to. Art is strange.
        I bet a lot of kids would be delighted to be sitting or better yet standing on top of a snowball pile.
        There’s a curving staircase with a railing on one side in a nearby city that the winter turns into a slide so I hold on with one hand and go down it, using my feet to get a maximum controllable speed.
        Wolverines like to slide down hills and I’ve heard a first-person account of another animal, I think a groundhog, doing it too.

        Animanarchy wrote on April 30th, 2013
  7. I sometimes will teach rolling and ground grappling in my Taekwondo classes…might try to find a way to incorporate crawling without the adults thinking I’m crazy. lol

    Jacob wrote on April 30th, 2013
    • I run a martial arts school. I use quadrupedal movement (crawling) all the time with my students (both kids and adults). I use it in the warm ups, as it is outstanding for increasing coordination, joint stability, weight transfer, etc.. I also use it as part of conditioning drills. i.e. – 10 kicks on pad, bear crawl across floor, 10 burpees, bear crawl back to pad, 9 kicks on pad, etc.. down to 1. I get a lot of my QM inspiration from the parkour world, Animal Flow, and MovNat. It’s great stuff for martial artists!

      Andrew wrote on April 30th, 2013
  8. Gardening is a great exercise…. Crawling under bushes after those illusive weeds (maybe I should try a rolling motion too?) – then hunkering down whilst moving around planting small plants, and standing and stretching while pruning…

    Other sports like doing dog agility get one out and active and trying to co-ordinate movements and signals to the dog (brain workout too)… and of course when he’s been good there’s nobody better to act the loop with and have a good ole play than your dog….

    ;-)

    Sally wrote on April 30th, 2013
  9. I just rediscovered the importance of natural movement and the importance it has for general fitness and overall well-being. For my training as an armed customs officer, I have to complete a half-a**ed obstacle course that involves scaling two ladders (those gymnastics thingies you find in every other gym hall) and crawling through a gymnastics box element laid on its side. Being 6’5″ and 290 lbs, this is not exactly easy for me. So I had to practise this.

    I found out that Crossfit and simply going into the park and crawling and jumping around yield the best results for me.

    As for rolling, well, as a former judoka, the falling and rolling techniques are still (after more than 15 years since my last stint on the mat) hardwired into my muscle memory. You cannot do much better than looking at judo or jujitsu falling and rolling technique…

    Jotunsquid wrote on April 30th, 2013
  10. It’s amazing how many of these practical movements like rolling and balancing are neglected. I’ll be honest, I’ve been guilty of it too. It was only after injuring my foot that I went through rehab and these practical movements were used heavily. Let’s just say my balance was terrible to begin with, but is now much better :)

    Maxine wrote on April 30th, 2013
  11. Great topic! When I retired I started slowing down and didn’t get down on the ground any more. Then I thought about the “help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” image, so I got busy. I never could do a forward roll and I’ve got arthritis in my knees but the bear crawl is just what I need. I do floor exercises most days and go the the gym two or three times a week. Point is, I can get up from the floor easily now. Not like a gymnast, more like a bear. :)

    gibson wrote on April 30th, 2013
  12. I teach dance to young children and adults. It’s amazing how fearful of rolling adults (myself included) are! Kids just go for it. Adults are way more protective of their body, but they are just as capable!

    Susie wrote on April 30th, 2013
    • I am terrified of rolling! Love to crawl, balance, play & move in general, but I’m very afraid of hurting myself in a roll. I would love to be able to conquer this fear though. I remember when I was little, loving somersaults & “winterpeppers” as we called backwards somersaults. :-)

      Any tips on getting past the fear?

      Paleo-curious wrote on April 30th, 2013
      • The fear is definitely there for a lot of people! Take it slow. Find somewhere really soft to try it. When you go to put your shoulder down to roll, do so very slowly to see that even though it might be an awkward position, it’s not so bad just to put your shoulder down in the set up. From there it just takes a little harder push and you’ll go over that shoulder. (back of the shoulder, not top.) Also, make sure to round your back :) As long as your head and neck aren’t touching the floor when you start, and you go slowly, you should come out unscathed!

        Tracy Barksdale wrote on April 30th, 2013
        • Thank you so much! The step-by-step really helps. I am going to try this, I vow! Just need to find a good soft surface. All our floors are hardwood… & it’s raining so the yard won’t work right now. :-(

          Paleo-curious wrote on April 30th, 2013
    • My rolling skills peaked in college…

      Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on April 30th, 2013
      • ‘Cause that’s how use you used to roll? :)

        raydawg wrote on May 1st, 2013
  13. I took an aikido class about 20 years ago. In an hour, we practiced rolls for at least half the time (which is a long time when I really just wanted to learn how to throw someone off-balance). From what I remember about rolling, it was similar to the video above, but there was no hand placement. Instead, we tucked our -hand/arm under our bodies, so basically your shoulder, neck and head follow the roll-line of your arm.

    My husband once saw aikido students (advanced) running, leaping and aikido rolling down the big sand dunes in Kitty Hawk (where they teach handgliding). They made it look easy – and beautiful.

    Kim wrote on April 30th, 2013
    • I did a few classes of aikido about 15 years ago. What stands out was my wrist was sore after every session. I kept wondering if my attacker would always conveniently grab my wrist. ;)

      Amy wrote on April 30th, 2013
  14. For the record, we execute what we practice. I think the aikido rolls I described above might be safer because, for example, if you accidentally end-o off your bike, you don’t want to plant your hands, but tuck and roll through your hand/arm etc. My husband was once in a high school musical with a kid who was a diver. The kid fell off a ladder on stage and literally dove into the wood floor. Later, in the hospital, the kid swore he saw blue (pool water, not the floor).

    Just sayin’.

    Kim wrote on April 30th, 2013
    • Once something fell out of my pocket while I was biking through a parking lot fast. In reaction I squeezed both brakes almost immediately. The bike stopped rolling forward, the back wheel lifted up, and I went flying over the handle bars with my arms out, Superman style. Time seemed to almost freeze while I was in the air (something that’s regular for me when in desperate situations – it’s kind of like watching a scratched DVD, I see frames, and make calculated decisions while examining them). I had a clear thought that I was “flying” and enjoyed it. I made contact with the pavement with my elbows and used my momentum to flip over them and land standing. My headphones stayed on, chee-yah. (When the character Norm says what sounds like “chee-yah” in the movie Avatar (after the altruistic crew escapes the base in the helicopter) I think it’s subliminal chia seed pushing.

      Animanarchy wrote on April 30th, 2013
      • Hilarious visual! Did anyone see your accidental total awesomeness? I hope so!

        Joy Beer wrote on April 30th, 2013
        • Not sure. I hope so as well, and looked around briefly as I unnecessarily dusted myself off, but there was no one really close and I felt it prudent to get back on the bike quickly and continue on my way. Let’s just say I wasn’t biking fast for the sheer thrill – what fell out of my pocket was freely acquired merchandise that I planned to quickly ingest once I got somewhere secluded.

          Animanarchy wrote on May 9th, 2013
        • It happened again. I was fired up on beer, thought it’d be a good idea to bike along a slightly curving road at night with my eyes closed briefly.. I opened my eyes in time to see a car approaching from behind, crossed the road, the front wheel hit the guard rail, the bike stopped and stayed in place conveniently on both tires leaning on the metal, as if I had left it there on purpose. I pitched forward into a somersault going down a steep ditch, and quickly turned around. I was unharmed, somewhat thrilled, and briefly angry at whoever was driving for not stopping to see if I was ok, then got back on my bike and continued my work. (Transporting simple supplies and water).

          Animanarchy wrote on June 11th, 2013
        • These flips off bikes must be getting a little old by now but here’s part three. This happened in the summer but I kept forgetting to write about it. Like any well-done threequel, it’s the most intense and radically incredible one yet.
          The story begins with a cheapish bike that’s slightly too small for me. I was sitting in a small forested area in a park with some acquaintances in the early evening when it was still light out. I left briefly and came back and while biking on the “trail” (most open path through the trees) I was looking too far ahead ahead instead of at the ground and my front tire bumped a protruding tree root with a heavy shock. Somehow, and I consider this a mischievous quirk of physics – perhaps quantum…. the bump caused the seat to go completely loose and the handle bars to go almost completely loose. So now the vertical angle and orientation of my seat was all over the place and the handle bars were sliding sideways and turning like an axle while moving like a seesaw. I stayed in the park for a bit and then left because I had planned to bike about a marathon distance that night to get from the city I was in back to my hometown. Perfect timing for some freak accident! Biking was a precarious balancing act. The seat was dangerous and annoying, like sitting on a cheap compass needle in an electromagnetic storm, and the handle bars required repeated readjustments and I needed to keep them pressed in various ways against the pieces holding them. It was ridiculous. Before I left the limits of the city I saw some mechanic guys in someone’s garage and asked for assistance. They were able to fix the seat but couldn’t do anything about the handle bars. I continued on my way and skip to the part where I had left the city and was biking down a backroads two-lane highway in the dark, weaving all over my side of the road and the shoulder of it and trying not to get hit by cars or go in the ditch. Then I almost really lost control and started curving over to the opposite lane, turned back, and was headed for the ditch. There were cars coming from both directions. I had an urgent thought about how if I went into the ditch something bad would happen. Specifically I thought I might break my neck. Trusting my gut feeling I turned back across the road in front of the approaching car in the opposite lane. I turned my head to get a better look at it and it was closer than I thought. It was actually about to crush my leg if I didn’t do something fast. So what I did was push the pedal down as hard as I could and just moved far enough fast enough that when the car clipped the bike it hit the back tire. I half-flew, half-jumped off the pedals and did a flip over and past the handle bars and landed on my hands and knees in the ditch. The car squealed to a stop and then I got up quickly, unhurt and unfazed. The lady who’d been driving the car was the one freaking out. She was going hysterical and said she needed an ambulance so one of people who’d seen and stopped called one for her, but cops showed up with it, and they told me I could go with them and be arrested (probably for public intoxication ;))or get in the ambulance (this has happened to me a few times.. I always choose ambulance). I got to the hospital and was issued a Form 1, which means I’m legally bound to stay in the psyche ward for three days and trying to leave would get me swarmed by security, plus the doors are locked so it would be pointless. They didn’t even give me a reason why I had to stay. I think it was a hospital money-making scheme. Once I was there they figured they might as well use me. There was one good outcome. After leaving the hospital, before I was off the property, it started raining heavily so I walked in a certain direction to try to find shelter. I didn’t but, I did found a bag on the ground with a bit of weed in it… within 10 minutes, maybe closer to five, of leaving the hospital doors. Then I kept going and found some empty beer bottles and cans in a backyard so I quickly gathered those and traded them for beer. (I was out of money at the time so these occurrences seemed miraculous).

          Animanarchy wrote on March 15th, 2014
        • I should have proofread before posting. I was distracted by my brother talking to me while trying to type the end of the story.

          Animanarchy wrote on March 15th, 2014
  15. “You cannot do much better than looking at judo or jujitsu falling and rolling technique…”

    Yes, but it helps to have some body fat/padding, especially for the falls. :)

    Helga wrote on April 30th, 2013
  16. Before I read this article with an enticing title and concept I want to ask myself, “Why am I scrolling down facebook while I have unread MDA articles in other tabs?”

    Animanarchy wrote on April 30th, 2013
  17. One day, while rushing around cleaning the house before my in-laws arrived from out of town, rule #9 reared it’s ugly head, again, and I took a wrong step at the top of the basement stairs and fell backwards. I had it in my head that if I ever fell down the stairs I would tuck and roll since that seemed like what the stunt people do in the movies.

    I did exactly that and as I was rolling down I was thinking…. this is going well…. which it was. What I didn’t plan for was hitting my head on the cement floor when I got to the bottom. I may have had a slight concussion, not really sure, and I was a bit sore all over for a few days, but all in all, I think I made a good choice to roll.

    I guess all that rolling around as a kid and in gymnastic classes paid off.

    Sharon wrote on April 30th, 2013
    • Interesting. I like knowing people conquering rough situations like that.
      I present a lot of my high-light stories here and feel a bit concerned that some people think I’m just being boastful, but no, desperation that forces inspiration rocks my boat.

      Animanarchy wrote on April 30th, 2013
  18. One of the coolest parkour moves I did was after climbing up an inverted corner of a brick wall lining a parking lot and edging and cutting off the slope of a hill. I ran lightly down the slope on the side that wasn’t steep, did a u-turn and kept my momentum while jumping off the wall with it to my left, put my hands on the top of the bricks, facing the wall, continued using momentum to spin almost a 360 in the air to the left so I ended up with just my left hand on the bricks and used it and my left foot to push off from the wall, landing in a springing crouch.

    Animanarchy wrote on April 30th, 2013
  19. I can see the sense in all this.
    At our circuit training a couple of weeks ago the instructor put us in pairs. Made one of us kneel on all fours while the other had to jump over and then crawl under the other one for a minute.
    We were all giggling like school kids and had great fun.

    Anne D wrote on April 30th, 2013
  20. I like to crawl up and down the block. Someone should invent crawling gloves because the pavement can be rough on the hands.

    Steve wrote on April 30th, 2013
    • Leather gloves or mitts are useful possessions to have. I think they’d suffice in your case.
      I have leather mitts and use them to lift pots off the grill over the fire and stir the cooking food and may use them to protect my hands while moving supplies for a shelter I’m thinking of constructing so my tent is fortified and weather resistant.
      I’ve got some stuff strewn about already from a plentiful source of scraps: sheet/cage metal, forklift trays (which make good low walls when something flat is in them like the sheet metal), some rolled up chain-link fencing..
      I rolled / threw a lot of this stuff down a hill and think I might have accidentally killed a raccoon while doing so. I didn’t see a dead raccoon at the bottom when climbing up the hill but after sending heavy stuff down there was a dead one at the bottom that looked young and well fed. That qualifies as at least close to a coincidence since I tried to run down a groundhog recently.
      Sometimes I feel like I have a base wicked intelligence operating but it’s misdirected, subtly making secret moves, or completely controlling my conduct while my consciousness is just an undermined naive facade or trivial distraction.

      Animanarchy wrote on April 30th, 2013
      • *make that two raccoons. Guess I wasn’t that observant. oops.

        Animanarchy wrote on May 9th, 2013
  21. Great article. I had the chance to train with Tracy Barksdale at a seminar she taught is San Diego. She’s a great coach, knows her stuff, and communicates it in a positive and enthusiastic way. If I was in Austin, I would go to her gym in a heartbeat!

    Personally, I love mixing calisthenics, and bar workouts, with natural movement. I kinda see it as the pull ups, muscle ups, dips, etc.. train your body to be strong. The natural movement like crawling, rolling, balancing, vaulting, climbing, etc.. teach your body to use that strength in a useful way. Besides, all that stuff is just plain fun!

    Andrew wrote on April 30th, 2013
    • awwww thanks, Andrew!

      Tracy Barksdale wrote on April 30th, 2013
  22. I incorporate most of this kind of play into my workouts (including handstands and the like), but I’ve noticed when I roll either forward or backward I get dizzy. This seems to be part of overall motion sickness I’ve developed with age (e.g., I can’t swing too high or too long on the swings without feeling it). Can the vestibular system be (re)trained, much like balance and flexibility?

    donna wrote on April 30th, 2013
    • It sure can! Just a trick to help with dizziness: make your hand flat and put it between your eyes. So your hand is vertical and sideways, not flat against your face like a facepalm. Then look at a static spot in your environment and usually the room will stop spinning :)

      Tracy Barksdale wrote on April 30th, 2013
    • Some people just have a greater tolerance for height, speed, inversion, etc. (otherwise we would all be gymnasts or Cirque du Soleil performers).

      Helga wrote on April 30th, 2013
    • +1, I’m in my mid 30’s and have tried a tumble or roll from time to time, and it usually results in severe dizziness. Go to know the vestibular system be retrained, I will certainly be working on this. Getting motion sickness over simple things makes me feel much older than I am.

      Sean wrote on May 1st, 2013
  23. I do this Everyday!!!!!

    Alexandra wrote on April 30th, 2013
  24. I tell anyone that will listen if you want to lose a quick 5 pounds just come weed eat the ditch out in front of my house! Takes about an hour and a half.

    Dan wrote on April 30th, 2013
  25. When I started Crossfit and the coach was surprised that I could do a pull up I gave him a sheepish look and mumbled “I still climb trees”.

    Belatrix wrote on April 30th, 2013
  26. As my grandmother loved to tell people, well into her 90s, “I could do a forward roll til I was 85.”

    :-)

    Susan Alexander wrote on April 30th, 2013
  27. When I began taking Brazilian Jiu-jitsu classes a few years ago, the instructor would make us practice various rolls before class as part of the warm-up. At first I was like, “Whuuuuuhhhh? Man do you know I’m in my late 30s?” and then was shocked at how natural it felt doing them, not to mention a ton of fun. You might also find me bear crawling around my house when I get bored with my other fitness routines. It’s incredible on your shoulders and quads. +1 for this post.

    Dr. Mark wrote on April 30th, 2013
  28. Best man to go to about these matter is Ido Portal
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6BBk3Nvj9k

    Michael Hourigan wrote on April 30th, 2013
  29. Hey! I’m a 67 year old dude… and still can climb trees. MovNat is much more appealing to me than CrossFit. I have nothing against CrossFit though.

    Kem wrote on April 30th, 2013
  30. I used to do similar drills in football training – a good workout.

    I wouldn’t try it in a kids park – you might get arrested!

    Peter wrote on May 1st, 2013
  31. I love this. I coach cheerleading and I try to maintain all my gymnastic skills and I’m even trying to learn some new ones. I mean… if I’m teaching them, I should know how to do them, right?

    And in a few years I’ll be popping out some kids and I definitely want to roll around with them :)

    Amber wrote on May 1st, 2013
  32. This post inspired me to go home and beg my husband to play hide and seek with me. We had a blast! Running around, heart beat elevated, strange looks from the neighbors. It just so happened that yesterday was the Mexican holiday “Dia de los Ninos” and even though my husband and I don’t have kids yet, we felt like kids at heart.

    Christin wrote on May 1st, 2013
  33. Crawling is also a great way to strengthen the muscles of the rotator cuff! I had to try a few rolls in the limited space I have in my treatment room between patients :)

    Dr. Cory wrote on May 1st, 2013
  34. Cool post. I do these things with my kids not realizing all the true benfits.And yes i still climb trees as part of my workout 1-2 times per week depending on the weather.

    Matt wrote on May 3rd, 2013
  35. where do you guys find trees to climb without looking like a social outcast? ‘Cause seriously my fear of society’s ‘rules’ is what holds me back from trying this. I don’t have young kids anymore and really want to climb a tree without needing others to do it with me so I don’t look weird.

    iluvoptics wrote on May 4th, 2013
    • holy cow I found a tree to climb while walking through a park area! It was in a small forest but still close to a few roads and I could see cars driving and people walking, but they couldn’t see me ;) this is just what I wanted! I only got 10 feet up and it felt high enough! (for now)

      iluvoptics wrote on May 20th, 2013
  36. I like to climb trees in the middle of walks. It’s pretty fun. Not many trees by me, though, that are both suitable for climbing and tall which is unfortunate so I’ve never gone higher than maybe 25 ft.

    Mark Pompeo wrote on May 7th, 2013
  37. Wow – it occurred to me that it has been years since I rolled – in a judo class in my 20’s and sometimes on the ski slopes – just because I fell and it was a fun quick way to get righted. But never have I ever thought to analyze HOW to roll because I forgot! Not quite true – shoulder rolls did have a technique, plus back in Judo we prepared over and over for falling, tucking etc. Just maybe I’ll try – but not the barefoot part – too many injury possibilities, not to mention widespread poison ivy.

    C Gajowski wrote on May 23rd, 2013
  38. I like this idea. It’s reminds me of a more holistic, less agressive crossfit.

    Clif wrote on May 1st, 2014

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