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Why You Need to Crawl Before You Run

It's the secret to becoming a stronger, fitter runner, says our expert.

Our mostly-sedentary lifestyles aren’t doing our bodies any favors. Not only are we compromising our ability to train without injury, but according to LA-based Tier 4 coach Christopher McMahon, we're creating an imbalance so deep that we forget how to properly walk. 

“Sometimes, when I ask an athlete to walk, he’ll swing his right arm with his right leg and left with left”—a sign that he’s lost the cross-body connections that are integral to effective running, McMahon says. “Crawling helps rebuild those connections and bring your body back to its natural aptitudes, improving your running endurance and strength.”

In fact, crawling can be a sidelined runner's salvation, which is why McMahon incorporates it into the regimens of his injured athletes. In terms of prevention, he has also seen crawling offset injuries caused by heel strikes and knee misalignment. "Crawling also trains the vestibular system, which the brain uses to balance," he says. 

Sound too good to be true? “Most people are skeptical,” McMahon admits. “But once they crawl for a minute straight—and I tell them we’ll work up to 10 minutes­—their minds are blown; it’s hard, and they like it.” Here, McMahon explains how to work up from a dead bug to a baby crawl to a sprint.