Questions with Answers
Apr 12, 2021
This is a first for the blog - we are going to take a couple of questions we've gotten recently and answer them here in hopes that it may be helpful to you, our friend, the reader.
So, HERE we go!
Can you please clarify this for me, what is the deal with the bear crawl? I remember hearing about it during the Pressing Reset Course and there was even a test question about it on the exam! However, I'm not completely clear about the OS stance on this crawl. Recently, a movement company I enjoy just sent out a very lengthy article about the bear crawl, some variations, and the many advantages of doing it. Can you please tell me how the folks at OS feel about this crawl and what your suggestions would be for me and my clients?
This may be an issue with definitions. We define the bear crawl as crawling on your hands and feet with the head held down and with the butt held high in the air, above the head. To us at OS, it looks like a lumbering bear. This crawl can have some value, especially if it is being performed contra-laterally (opposite limbs moving and working together). But, because the head is held down and the butt is allowed to rise up high, we are not quite getting the biggest neurological bang for our buck - we are missing out on the postural restoring benefits and the core's strengthening benefits of this crawl. We would classify our definition of the bear crawl as “good,” but not optimal or preferred.
We prefer instead, what we call the Leopard and/or Spider-Man crawl. We define these as crawling on the hands and feet with the eyes and head held up on the horizon and the butt held down, below the head. This demands the center to stay reflexively engaged and it reinforces the optimal reflexive spinal posture for our bodies. The distinction between what we call the Leopard and Spider-Man crawl is that in the Leopard Crawl, the knees track underneath the torso, or inside the elbows. In the Spider-Man crawl, the knees track outside of the torso, or outside of the elbows. One looks more like a cat, one looks more like a superhero. We would classify the Leopard Crawl as "better" and the Spider-Man Crawl as "best." Although, there is a thin line of difference between the two, and both are great to train with.
If you're wondering, Spider-Man Crawling is more demanding neurologically, as it requires more pelvic stability. This is why we would give it the slight edge over Leopard Crawling. Again, both are amazing.
The wonderful people at the movement system you enjoy may do all three of these and call them all bear crawls, or variations of bear crawls. It could be a matter of our definitions - many label hands and feet crawling "bear crawling," where we make a distinction of the crawls based on the posture of the crawls.
In OS, through our defining lens, we prefer the Leopard and Spider-Man for creating optimal afferent neurological information in the hopes of achieving optimal physical expression. The body position of the crawls we teach in our books, manuals, and videos is how we train our instructors, coaches, and clients. We really don’t deviate from this: head held up on the horizon, tall chest (flat back), butt held down below the head.
I hope this helps!
I have a question about pain. When you say, "Do not move into pain," does this also include when one had mobility and then lost it briefly due to a strain/sleeping wrong/achiness from a workout, etc?
I recently had an "incident" that made it painful to move. Before this, I envisioned that you were telling people not to move into pain if the 'pain' was due to a lack of flexibility for someone who is inactive or not yet flexible. Does your view on not moving into pain also include injuries and how does that affect the nervous system when we do push past a point of being merely uncomfortable?
Great question! Moving into pain - Don’t. Pain tells the nervous system “I’m not safe.” So, whether injured or not, we don’t advise moving into pain. There is a difference between pain, being sore, and being uncomfortable. One is a warning, the others are often reminders or memories.
It’s okay to be uncomfortable and it's okay to try to make the uncomfortable comfortable. As long as it is not PAIN. Or Fear. You really don't want to move where you are afraid to move either. That also makes the nervous system feel unsafe.
Anyway, we don't want to move into pain. We can move to the edge of it, we can explore its borders and boundaries, but we don’t want to cross the threshold of it. By moving only to the edge, we give the nervous system a chance to assess the situation and decide whether or not it can feel safe at the edge. Allowing the nervous system to feel safe, may actually push the pain barriers further down the road, if not all the way away. You can actually remove pain by getting close and comfortable with its boundaries.
BUT, in the case of an injury, you can also help yourself let go of pain through patience and time. When pain is due to an injury - there is a time for healing. Having said that, patience and moving where you can move without pain, can actually accelerate healing and the restoration process. Pushing through pain can aggravate and exasperate the situation, extending healing time.
Sometimes the body holds on to the pain when it is healed from injury. This too, should not be pushed through but flirted with instead. Getting comfortable at the threshold with no intention of busting through it may just allow the body to melt the pain away. We've seen this happen so many times...
Anyway, in OS, we don't push through pain. Instead, we try to melt it away by letting the nervous system know that it is safe. So, don't push through pain - it's a trap!
I hope this helps!
AND, I hope this was helpful to you, our friend, the reader. If you enjoyed this and you have questions of your own, please let us know. We can post them here in hopes of helping everyone. Just send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Place "Questions for Tim, Dani, and the Gang" in the subject heading.