People often inquire as to whether they should or should not stretch. People often inquire about any “exercise,” “pose,” or “stretch” they can do throughout the day to counter discomfort here or there. The move explained, demonstrated and assigned (that’s right; you have homework) above encapsulates a full body and mind warm-up to be done with or without stretching. The move directly address activating the full body, with a focus on the core and glutes (your rear); two area that people often focus on during gym sessions, and two areas that are virtually shut down to become flabby and atrophied due to long periods of uninterrupted sitting.
Performing any movement, but particularly movements like this need to be done with intention and purpose; and with a knowledge of what you are doing and why you are doing it. That is why we go into these explanations. We want to add fuel to your fire. We want you to feel it where you should feel it and know about those effects that you can’t physically feel, but are no doubt taking place.
This move (quadruped cross-crawl) simultaneously activates both motor cortices (as the right cortex moves the left limb and the left moves the right due to decussation that takes place in the descending spinal tracts). It also further pinpoints areas of the brain by using both major flexors (the arm/shoulder leading out in front) and major extensors (the hip; firing the gluteus maximus behind you), along with the reverse as your return to neutral. More areas are stimulated by firing to both the upper and lower extremities.
All of this requires balance, ESPECIALLY if you use an object like a foam roller across the low back in order to stabilize the core. This fires up additional pathways and areas of the brain including the cerebellum which plays a wide variety of critical roles and is strongly activated here by intertwining the muscle coordination with balance and stability. Proprioception (having a non-visual grasp on where your body, in this case the lower limbs, are in space) is also queued when consciously executing rep after rep.
This all serves to not only activate the target tissues, which is vital especially when being a long, uninterrupted sitter; but it fires up the brain as we are forced to send complex, coordinated, multilevel instructions to numerous regions of the body, and subsequently bombards the brain with sensory input.
While I personally use this before I ask my body to perform complex or high performance level tasks (a race, a tough workout, etc.), it has become a staple each morning to warm up the full body, but more importantly to ignite the brain as my day filled with a desire for clarity and focus begins. Yet another hack to optimize that one body.