The Crab Crawl: Taking Five Steps

The crab walk has been one of the best accomplishments of my life. The movement was one I envied in others during my youth. Often taking place in physical education class along the gym floor. My peers seemed able to at least hold the crab position. Some could make the crawling motion. Finding the coordination in all four limbs to move across the floor. While, others found success in holding their hips off the ground for sustained periods. For me, neither of these crab functions was achievable in those physical education settings. I would make attempts to lift my hips from the gym floor, but the strength and coordination weren’t present. Until, the previous few months working the exercise with Bernard. When we began preparing for the crab walk slowly. Breaking down the movement into working with each limb. Attempting to lift both feet and both hands off the floor, individually. But, working on the crab crawl ended up carrying a price. Working on and performing the exercise was hurting my body. The loss of balance when working on the first step of holding the crab position, would send my back side falling to the floor. My contact with the turf on the gym floor turned out to be jarring for my hips. Often trying to brace myself when I felt my balance falter. The use of my elbow to lighten the impact didn’t stop the consequence of the impact. Leaving me to wonder if learning the exercise was worthwhile. 

There was trouble from the start with the crab. The first movements worked on were from holding the crab position. My feet on the floor with my hands behind my back. From that point, pushing my hips off the floor, toward the ceiling. Just the position was challenging to hold and something I was unable to achieve during my school years. The next parts would get tricky. They actually caused surprise when Bernard ask me to try each. My beginning step was to lift each of my feet off the floor. Doing so, while maintaining the balance of having my hips off the floor. To my astonishment, I could pass the first of the challenges. The crab exercise started meeting its difficulties with the next stage. Bernard challenged me to lift each hand off the ground, one at a time, while keeping in the crab position. The right hand came off the ground with shaky apprehension. But, I found it to be doable. Getting my left hand to raise off the floor while maintaining balance was a different story. Working with the left hand would end up being the largest test of the entire crab walk process. Trouble manipulating my left hand would be the culprit behind each of my falls. The collapses would turn out to be hurting the muscles in my lower back. The short falls, caused my back side to hit the turf floor, and knock my hips out of alignment. Causing pain and need for chiropractic adjustment.

A tell-tale sign about my body has been the length of my legs. Each chiropractic adjustment with Dr. Dana begins with the gathering of this information. If you can believe it, the first time I had an appointment with Dr. Dana, my legs were about an inch apart. As we have worked together through the years. The inch of difference has disappeared due to his work with adjustments. Eventually, being my leg length, and therefore hips, back to level. The change has significantly reduced the pain levels in my body and helped my overall functioning. His adjustments have been a cornerstone in helping my cerebral palsy improve. So, when something shows a pattern of causing my hips to shake loose of alignment, we try to find the reason. As my battle with learning the crab walk continued for months. Moving from one stage of the exercise to the other. Slight injuries were cropping up every now and again. My hips, which have been showing a consistent pattern of being level for months, began showing signs of becoming slightly uneven. The loosing of my balance was challenging to manage. As I started understanding the most likely fall point would be with left hand movements. The collapsing onto the floor showed itself when lifting each limb while holding the crab position. I had a difficult challenge figuring out how to balance the body and get my left arm off the turf. Falling down many a time, while trying to brace my tumble with the left elbow. But, that move would cause the elbow to bleed, and it wasn’t stopping my hips from shifting. 

Even with the injuries happening when trying to learn the crab walk. I was determined to keep attempting the exercise. The movement was something eluding me as a kid. Making me feel as though I was isolated from my peers. Finally, we reached a plan that seemed to help the situation. Instead of making attempts to crab crawl for long length across the turf floor. Which, would cause me to inevitably fall, bloody my left elbow, and knocking my hips out of alignment. We decided to take five crab steps and stop. Lessening the likelihood of collapsing onto the floor from the position on my hips being elevated. The challenge became moving each of my limbs five different times, while my hips stayed off the floor. We weren’t doing the crab crawl for distance. The length of my steps didn’t matter in the slightest. The idea was to take five steps without falling. Learning how to shift my body weight correctly. Our new plan worked for the objective of not falling. I was able to work through the five movements of each limb of the crab crawl. Not falling at all while doing so. In the case of getting tired, I would gently set my hips down after completing three or four crawls. The pressure of moving for a certain distance was taken away from the challenge. The removal of pressure helped clear the mind and provided the room to execute the crawl. Everything with the crab crawl was going well, until the injury happened, again.

For some reason, we abandoned the concept of moving my limbs through five movements. We reverted back to lifting my limbs off the floor without the crawl. The most difficult of the concepts in learning the crab crawl. This time, I wanted to focus on keeping my left elbow from becoming bloody. The last time I was using my elbow to brace the fall, I walked directly out of the gym with a bloody scrap. The problem with the plan was leaving my backside to be the contact point with the turf. As we began lifting my limbs off the floor from the crab position. My largest challenge remained the same. Lifting the left arm off the turf, while maintaining the crab balance was too difficult for my skill level. The movement was achieved following a number of trials. The problem became the result of all the trials. All the falls back to the floor, directly onto my backside. The attempts and collapses left my hips uneven. A feeling gathering in my body, most felt in my left shoulder. As we progressed through the exercise, I could feel the small tinge, intensify. Thinking back on the situation now, I should have stopped the exercise in that moment. But, I kept making attempts to successfully execute the challenge. The result has been days of some of the most intense pain felt in my back. Leading me to believe that if an exercise has caused injury. It would be advantageous to use caution with the movement.

The interesting aspect about the crab crawl was reaching a place of success with the exercise. We had battled for month through less significant injuries. Some of my tumbles had caused my hips to fall out of place. But, the left elbow was being used to lessen the impact of my falls. We had reached a place of taking just five steps. All of the experimentation was being placed behind us and the exercise was moving forward. The sweet spot had been found and falls had become a thing of the past. Reaching this point with the crab walk felt amazing. Having conquered a movement which eluded me during my youth. Instead of imagining a person who looked around at other people doing the crab crawl. Only to make an attempt that never worked. It was exciting to break the movement down and work for the months it took for the steps to occur. The injury showed me there are times when the best thing to do is stop. Stop working on a movement once it has been achieved to satisfaction. Especially a movement causing smaller injuries along the progression of learning. I’m so thankful we were able to execute the crab crawl. Breaking it down to the five steps that made the movement achievable. The whole things probably should have been left at that point. The crab crawl had proven itself to be just a bit too challenging. 

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