CRAWLING! Yes, the thing that babies do before they learn to walk...it's a natural movement that we really should continue to do throughout our entire life. We are in an age where parents are told by their child’s physician that crawling is no longer considered an important developmental milestone. I feel it’s important that parents are also given the opportunity to learn about the many developmental and health benefits of crawling and then decide for themselves if it’s important for their child to crawl. For an infant learning to crawl, it is a total body workout; developing upper and lower body strength; every muscle group that they will use for movement as they become bipedal, including hand muscles needed for grasping strength and better finger dexterity. Research indicates that those children who skip crawling and go directly to walking have weaker motor skills. That makes sense as the early walker is not on the floor pushing with their legs, supporting their body with both arms and back to pull themselves along, balancing their body, while the hands and fingers are gripping to assist in movement. As I was never one to have all of the popular baby equipment to place my daughters in to keep them entertained; like jumpers and walkers, I wanted my girls to develop naturally…as we were designed to develop and move by God. I felt these items would hinder or delay proper development with my daughters. In fact, according to Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, baby jumpers promote movement that is detrimental to motor skills that infants need to develop. Possibly think about getting back to a more simple life and downsizing the baby gear you have in your home. Now, if your infant is an early walker, I can’t imagine trying to hinder your little one from progressing the way they choose to …but, think about having them crawl with you on the floor just for fun to give them that necessary movement for all of their muscles, and gross and fine motor skills. Not to mention crawling also gives the brain a good workout!
My granddaughter, Claire, when she was 11 months old; so proud of herself for crawling!
The mechanics of crawling stimulates different areas of the brain that are important for future learning. Those who crawl, using the cross-lateral movement (arm and leg movement that cross over from one side of the body to the other) forces the left and right sides of the brain to communicate and this strengthens the nerve-cell pathways that link both sides of the brain through the corpus callosum. The corpus callosum is a bunch of nerve fibers (over 200 million) located directly between the left and right hemispheres of the brain. This is responsible for helping the left and right sides of the brain communicate with each other very much like a messenger bridge. Left and right brain communication is essential for skills requiring coordination of the two sides of the body such as when walking, running, catching a ball, getting dressed or undressed, riding a bike, holding a paper while coloring or cutting, and even when reading and writing.
Children who crawl also have a better sense of depth and visual perception. This repetitious movement helps to organize and stimulate neurons, which allow the brain to control cognitive processes such as memory, concentration, and comprehension; all very important for later on when learning to read, write, and play sports. Remember, children will crawl when they are ready. Make your living space enticing for your infants; clear large spaces, keeping floors clean and safe, remove any potential hazards. Encourage your child by placing favorite toys or that intriguing cell phone they always want to play with out of range so your child has to move and reach to retrieve them. Have fun with your child and get down on the floor and crawl, as well. Take your children into the garden and have them crawl along side of you and help pull weeds. This will strengthen fingers and hand muscles. So important for holding pencils when they start to draw and write. Remember, children learn by example!! This leads me to the incredible benefits that crawling has for adults!
Crawling is an amazing way to not only keep our body fit, but it also keeps our brain sharp, just like children! Even though our gross motor skills are already developed, our depth perception is most likely pretty accurate, and our fine motor skill aren’t lacking as we can grasp pens or small items…(unless arthritis has set in…another future blog!), we still need to train our body to work together harmoniously with itself using cross-lateral movement, which is what we use when crawling. If done correctly and vigorously, crawling will increase our overall strength in our arms, legs, back, abs, core, and even build better balance. We also increase our flexibility in the wrists, fingers, hand muscles, and ankles; other areas of our body that we forget to include in daily movement and keeping healthy. Add crawling up a hill, stairs, attach a weight to your waist and drag it behind you, crawl and then jump like a frog, or leap and pounce like a tiger. This will be an increased strengthening workout and assist in building bone density. As we age, it is vital to have mobility, flexibility, and strong bones!
Another incredible perk from crawling and cross-lateral movement is we are able to strengthen both the left and right side of the brain, allowing increased communication between the two sides of the brain, which enhances learning and memory. Yes, even at our age! Any time the left and right side of our bodies can work in concert together, the brain is compelled to send signals back and forth from one side to the other. The more we can do this each day, the stronger these connections become. This also allows for improved emotional balance, improved coordination and spatial awareness, improved vision, and improved memory and mental clarity. With the use of so much technology in our lives each day, which utilizes more linear-thinking, we’re missing out on developing both sides of the brain. We’re basically relying on only one half of the brain – the left side. This controls logic, reason, math, language, reading, detail, and short-term memory, just to name a few. The right side of the brain develops creativity, individuality, emotions - so many incredible benefits to this simple movement that we tend to stop doing once we are able to walk. When you add crawling outdoors, you come in contact with the ground, which also aids your body in healing and reducing stress. Crawling builds so many important areas of our body. It also stimulates our lymphatic system, and allows for better flow of the cerebral spinal fluid. They always say keep it simple…doesn’t get any simpler than this!
Now, there will always be naysayers and people who will disagree with anything that is said or written; expressing negative or pessimistic views. Here at fountainofyouthtv, we are not about creating conflict with what other people believe. But rather, to inform through extensive research and actually living what we preach and seeing incredible improvement in how our bodies function and age so gracefully. As an educator of 26 years, mother of two grown daughters, a grandmother, and a woman who has struggled with balance issues, ADHD, and learning difficulties as a child...There are many studies that indicate that crawling does in fact increase brain activity, improve balance, along with the many benefits discussed in this blog. Rox and I so enjoy this form of movement/exercise. Giving us an incredible cardio workout at the same time! Give it a try, you'll see!!
There are times in our lives when we need to be able to get down onto the floor/ground and crawl; working in our gardens, retrieving items that fall underneath furniture, playing with our young children/grandchildren...So imperative to keep our body limber and brain sharp! Crawling will help to keep us independent and not needing to rely on others. It is so important for us to be mobile and able to function in all capacities of life for as long as we are alive. Check out our video to learn about basic crawling and how it will benefit your life! So many health benefits from this basic form of movement. Living more on the floor truly is a vital part to finding the fountain of youth! ENJOY! We'd love to hear from you and have you share your wisdom of life experiences on this topic!! We learn from each other!