Humans get around the world by walking, and much of Pilates is geared towards functional fitness while standing: correct posture, proper gait, and strength standing in neutral. Crawling, however, has benefits of its own. Yes, crawling!

Quadrupedal movement, or exercises on all fours, is a natural phase of development for infants. It is the basic way they develop coordination and contralateral movement strength, and the importance of it for babies has been researched extensively. As adults, Pilates exercises on the hands and knees can help with stability of the joints and balance across the core.

Physiotherapist Lisa Howell demonstrates the major muscle groups or “slings” that benefit from distributing the weight across four limbs in this great blog article, “The Importance of Crawling.” The obliques are the major target, along with the inner thighs, lats, and gluts. She writes, “Poor stability in these slings results in difficulty maintaining good posture. Fitness coach Tim Anderson writes about more upsides to going down to the floor.

Important Definitions:

The Anterior Oblique Sling includes the inner thigh muscles (adductors) and the External Oblique on the opposite side. This is one of the main connections that is developed when a baby/adult/ animal moves around on all fours, and is extremely important in normal walking.

The Posterior Oblique Sling includes the Latissimus Dorsi and the Gluteals and is very important in normal walking.

The Fascial Lines are very important in both developing optimal mobility, and strength without bulk, essential elements for any dancer (or athlete).

“Crawling also unites your sensory systems. It integrates your vestibular system (your balance system), your proprioceptive system (your sense of self in space, or your self-awareness system), and your visual system. It can even improve your hand eye coordination.” He goes on to drawl the parallel between crawling patterns and walking patterns.

Other forms of exercise like Parkour and rock climbing include quadrupedal movement. Pilates exercises on all fours build from the basic watchdog mat exercises to work on the SilkSuspension, CoreAlign, and other modalities. Below are links to some of our favorite all fours exercises:

Short Plank 1:


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Other videos: