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How Do I Do a Crab Walk?

By I. Ong
Updated May 17, 2024
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The crab walk is an exercise used to stretch and engage muscles rarely used in more common exercises. To do this, you must be on your hands and feet, with your stomach facing upward and your hips raised. You then move forward, sideways, and backward to work out your muscles.

The first step is to prepare yourself and the area for the crab walk. Ensure that you are not do not have loose, long sleeves on your top or overly long pant legs that fall past your ankles. This is to prevent possibly slipping on them, as fabric tends to generate much less friction than skin against floor surfaces.

If you have long hair, take steps to keep it from dragging on the floor. Getting hair caught between your palms and the floor is uncomfortable at best and can cause you to slip at worst. You must also prepare the area in which you intend to perform the exercise by clearing away furniture, rugs, shoes, and any scattered items on the floor that may get in your way. It is advisable to have a space at least three times your height and width in diameter.

Once you have completed preparations, seat yourself on the floor. Stretch your legs out a shoulder's width apart before you with your feet flat on the floor. Place your arms behind you with palms against the floor and fingers pointing away from your back. Slowly raise yourself up to balance on your hands and feet with your stomach facing upward, then gently lower yourself down. Repeat this until it becomes comfortable.

When the crab walk position is familiar to you, raise yourself up on your hands and feet with your stomach facing the ceiling. Lift your hips high to stretch your body fully. Slowly crawl forward by moving your right foot and left hand, then your left foot and right hand.

After practicing the crab walk at a crawl, you may speed it up. Vary the workout by moving backward as well as sideways. You may also stretch in the crab walk position, which involves holding one leg lateral for eight counts, then switching to the other.

Performing the crab walk with your hands positioned to direct your fingers away from your feet rotates your shoulders and enhances their flexibility. Once you are more experienced in doing the crab walk, you can attempt a more advanced level of stretching your shoulders. This involves positioning your hands to point your fingers towards your feet while crab walking.

It should be noted that there is a different exercise also known by the name of crab walk. This activity involves winding a looped exercise band around your ankles while keeping your feet a shoulder's width apart. You then take a step to the right with your right foot, making your leg muscles work to stretch the band. Close the gap by stepping to the right with your left foot. Repeat the process eight times, and then again in reverse to work out your left side.

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Discussion Comments

By Cageybird — On Jun 06, 2014

My martial arts classes always started out with warm-up exercises, and the instructor loved the crab walk. There would be thirty of us going forwards and backward and sideways around the gym, and collisions were common. I hated it at first, but later the crab walk exercise became one of my favorites, since I don't enjoy the traditional abdominal and core exercises like crunches or planks. I'd rather walk like a crab for a few minutes than hold a crunch pose until the instructor decides I've had enough.

By Buster29 — On Jun 05, 2014

I remember we used to play a variation of soccer in gym class while we were in the crab walk position. The PE teachers told us to walk like a crab while we passed a ball back and forth. We didn't know about things like core workouts, but crab walking for thirty minutes was a real exercise. I couldn't hold that position for more than five minutes at a time, and that was when I was in pretty good condition.

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