The things to avoid doing while Bear Crawling are:
- Allowing spinal flexion or kyphosis
- Protracting your scapula
- Letting your femurs abduct/adduct or externally/internally rotate
- Letting your hips sway side to side or drop or rotate in the transverse plane
- Holding your abdominals tight
- Holding your breath
- Not smiling
Bad form: spinal flexion and scapular protraction.
Bad form: hips unstable and knees abducting & adducting and externally & internally rotating.
If you have thoracic flexion, kyphosis, forward shoulders, or forward head posture, and you do the Bear Crawls with bad form where you tighten your abdominal muscles and flex your spine, you are going to reinforce your bad posture and bad movement patterns. This will make your posture worse over time, increase your chance of injury and pain, and decrease your performance.
If you have a hip disparity where one hip is less stable than the other (and maybe elevated, rotated, or tilted differently than the other hip) and you let your hips sway side to side or your knees go in and out while Bear Crawling you are probably going to reinforce your hip disparity. Reinforcing your imbalances means you are increasing your risk of injury and pain and are going to decrease your performance.
The keys to proper Bear Crawl technique are:
- Start and maintain a position of spinal extension
- Start and maintain a position of passive scapular retraction
- Maintain a neutral femur postion
- Maintain a balanced pelvic position
- Make sure to load opposite arm and leg at the same time
- Relax your stomach and let your abdominals react to the movement
- Smile and have fun!
Good form: maintaining spinal extension.
The Bear Crawl can have a positive impact on hip imbalances, shoulder imbalances, and spinal misalignments when done correctly. The Bear Crawl can improve spinal misalignments such as kyphosis or spinal rotation. When done correctly, the Bear Crawl is teaching the spine to load while in extension and the demand on the shoulders, shoulder blades, and thoracic extensors can dramatically decrease kyphosis.
Good form: hips stable and knees straight.
If someone has a dominate hip and a less stable hip, doing the Bear Crawl can teach both hips to load and stabilize the same and this can decrease or eliminate a hip rotation or hip elevation. The key is not letting your body compensate in its usual ways, but rather to teach your body to move in a more symmetrical, balanced, and functional way.