Bolder Shoulders

Categories: Blog Mar 15, 2021

What if you could have bolder shoulders? I spelled that right. I’m talking about having brave shoulders, or having no concerns for the health of your shoulders. 


Have you ever not done things or do you ever not do things because you are afraid of injuring your shoulders? 


Do you find you limit your range of motion in your arms because you don’t want to damage your shoulders - again? 


Or, have you met people who tore their rotator cuffs walking their dog, or maybe they injured their shoulder severely by reaching into the back seat of their car from the driver’s seat? 


Do stories like this make you cautious about the health or resilience of your shoulders? 


What if you didn’t care, or what if your shoulders were so healthy, their state of being was never a thought in your head? 


What if their was a movement you could do that could fortify, strengthen, repair, and restore your shoulders to the point where you need not be concerned with them? 


Because there is.


Backward crawling is a shoulder solidifier. It strengthens the stabilizers of the shoulder, helping to re-centrate the shoulder joint, so the prime movers can smoothly move the shoulder without concern. 


But that’s not all backward crawling does. Let’s look at this from a whole perspective. 


  • Backward crawling helps to lengthen, or optimize, the thoracic spine. A thoracic spine stuck in flexion, or kyphosis, is a spine that will greatly limit the shoulder’s overhead range of motion - it puts the brakes on shoulder flexion and overhead reach.  


  • Backward crawling also gently prepares the shoulder for overhead reach, or shoulder flexion. When you push off the hand to propel your body backwards, the body ends up behind the reach of the hand that is supporting the weight of the body. This is similar to pressing something overhead, in front of the body - like putting something up on a high shelf, above your head. 


  • Backward crawling also strengthens the obliques and prepares the torso to handle the forces of rotation. When you push off the hand to propel your body backwards, you are also reaching back with the heavy, long lever (your leg) on the same side of the plant hand. This causes the obliques to reflexively contract in order to keep the pelvis and spine from rotating out of control, thus strengthening the connection between your shoulders and your hips. This makes the shoulders more durable because the center of the body is reflexively strong and stable - when the dog dashes away with the leash still in your hand, the center of your body can mitigate some of the force so that your shoulder doesn’t have to get yanked out of place. 


  • And to be redundant, backward crawling helps to establish centration of the shoulder joint. It turns on the shoulder stabilizers allowing them to support and hold the shoulder properly so that the prime movers can move the shoulder smoothly. This is shoulder mobility. When the lats, the pecs, and the delta don’t have to concern themselves with stabilizing the shoulder, they are free to move the shoulder everywhere it is designed to go. This means you can wash your back, wash your hair, or reach for that important paper that fell behind the driver’s seat without concern for your shoulder. 


If you are concerned about your shoulders, or if you believe they are limiting you and your desires of engaging in life, consider spending a few minutes a day crawling backwards on your hands and knees. 


Or, just do this for Bolder Shoulders:


  • Crawl Backward on your hands and knees 2 to 3 minutes a day, 2 to 3 times a day.
  • Keep your eyes and head up on the horizon.
  • Look over your shoulder if you want to see what is behind you.
  • Keep your lips closed. Breathe through your nose. 
  • Take your time - crawl slow and smooth. 
    • Don’t be in a rush. 
    • Let each step you take with your hand be deliberate and intentional.
    • Allow the planted hand to feel the weight of the body as it pushes the body backwards. 

Comments (10)

  1. Vickie Yeingst:
    Mar 15, 2021 at 11:51 AM

    I will certainly be crawling backwards today and every day to strengthen and support my shoulders for every day living and activities like swimming and Tennis and picking up my grandkids!! Thanks for the article!


    1. Tim Anderson:
      Mar 15, 2021 at 06:04 PM

      I like your everyday activities!


  2. Jeffrey C Falkner:
    Mar 15, 2021 at 05:59 PM

    For several years I couldn't do pushups, because of arthritis in my shoulders, but in June of last year was able to resume them. The only thing I can attribute this to is having for the past couple of years done more leopard crawling, including going backwards, and being more consistent in doing so.


    1. Tim Anderson:
      Mar 15, 2021 at 06:03 PM

      That’s so wonderful! Thanks so much for sharing!


  3. Mike Friedlander:
    Mar 16, 2021 at 12:21 AM

    I'm gonna combine daily backwards crawling with 5 minutes of passive hanging. Should really help my bad shoulder


    1. Christoph Wormuth:
      Jul 12, 2021 at 07:40 PM

      Great combo!

      Try head nods and head rotations while hanging to get even better results.


  4. Mark Kidd:
    Jul 27, 2021 at 04:22 PM

    Hi Tim

    Where does the posterior delt fit into all this?



    1. Tim Anderson:
      Jul 28, 2021 at 05:16 PM

      Hey Mark, I’m not sure I completely understand your question, but the posterior delts would help the arms/shoulders move into extension to swing the arm back when the hand leaves the ground to be planted again. If this is not what you meant, please let me know.


      1. Mark Kidd:
        Jul 28, 2021 at 06:29 PM

        Hi Tim

        Sorry. I was asking if this strengthens the posterior delt.



        1. Tim Anderson:
          Jul 28, 2021 at 07:27 PM

          It mostly strengthens the rotator cuffs, but it does also help to reflexively strengthen the movers like the delts, including the posterior delts. But it’s not a hypertrophy-type of strengthening - the rear delts won’t get large from doing this.


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