Animal Flow: Scorpion Reach and Crab Reach
Is that breakdancing?
Maybe a form of yoga?
Those are some of the questions I receive when someone watches me practice Animal Flow in a random corner in a gym. Animal Flow is a ground based bodyweight discipline that incorporates multi-planar movements that increases strength, stability, mobility, flexibility and cardiovascular endurance.
While there are many movements in the Animal Flow system, I am only going to cover two; the Scorpion Reach and Crab Reach.
Why I believe these movements are useful
I love how technology and the internet has enabled us to learn, create, socialize and entertain ourselves. But I believe there is a trade-off. The more we are connected to our devices, the more we consume different sorts of content, the less we move. Let me illustrate this example with the following image:
We might not notice it, but we spend hours without moving. Even the fittest people go through long periods of inactivity when they are not working out.
I get it, it can be hard to remind ourselves to get up and stretch, walk or mobilize ourselves when we are so invested in our work throughout the day. With inactivity, we pick up physical habits that make us comfortable. We might slouch when we are checking our phones while we wait in line for coffee. We might slouch over our computers because it’s comfortable. It requires effort to type upright doesn’t it?
I believe movements like those seen in yoga can help us nourish not only our bodies, but our fascia and mind as well. These movements are beneficial because it allows us to move in ways we normally don’t. It allows us to un-glue ourselves from our daily, repetitive movements and static postures. And it doesn’t have to be only yoga, it can be Pilates or dancing or even Animal Flow. I’m talking about whole movements, not simply exercising with weights.
Sitting for long periods of time can hurt our hip mobility, which in turn causes lower back pain. Movements like the Crab Reach and Scorpion Reach are great hip openers. They also challenge core stability and lubricate important joints. These two movements target all the areas that are tight and restrictive throughout the day.
There are tons of ways to fight the effects of prolonged sitting and inactivity. The two exercises I’m about to show you just happen to be one of my favorite ways.
But first let’s talk about….
Planes of motion
Everyday movements are done around three planes of motion; the sagittal plane, the frontal plane and the transverse plane .
The sagittal plane bisects the body into two halves, right and left. Most exercises are done on this plane. The frontal plane divides the body into front and back. And finally the transverse plane divides the body into the top and bottom.
As you will soon find out, the Scorpion Reach and Crab Reach move through these different planes of motion.
How to do a Scorpion Reach
The Scorpion Reach is a full body movement that will require stability throughout the core. At the bottom position of the movement you will get into trunk flexion and rotation. At the top position you will get into trunk rotation and extension.
You will first start by bringing your knee outside the opposite wrist, the leg that is on the ground remains slightly bent. You’re going to make a circular motion towards the outside of the body with the heel that is on the ground. Stick your head between your shoulders, straighten your arms, elongate your spine, bend the knee that is up in the air and let the weight of that leg pull you over to the other side.
How to do a Crab Reach
Start in a static crab position. Your fingers are pointing away from your body. Make sure to spread your fingers. Your hips are about an inch away from the ground. The distance between your butt and your hands, and your butt and your feet should be about the same. Then start by reaching one arm up and over towards the ground, slightly bending your arm. Push your hips as high as you can and look towards the ground.
This movement activates your posterior chain (your entire back side), targeting your back’s extensors, glutes and triceps. It lengthens your anterior side, opening up your hips and improving thoracic extension. You want to perform this movement with a slow and controlled tempo.
How to use these movements
You can use these movements as a part of a warm up or as a part of a strength circuit, or even as part of a “energizing circuit or flow”. People do different things to wake up their bodies. They might stretch a specific way, they might go for a walk or they might even workout.
Most people would benefit from using these movements as a warm up prior to training. I know this because most people don’t warm up at all. I witness this all the time in gyms; some guy or gal comes in, does a few arm circles or jumps on the elliptical for a few minutes and then hits the weights. This is far from an optimal warm up, especially if you were sitting down or inactive for most of that day.
There are other ways to combine these two movements. Once you feel comfortable try the combos in this short video. You can learn more about these movements at www.animalflow.com.