Practicing Heavy Work with the Crab Walk

The term “heavy work” can be off-putting, but all it means is that an activity requires the participant to use and put pressure on muscles and joints. For some children, this is an acquired skill that takes time and practice. For others, they can participate with absolutely no problems whatsoever. When we’re meeting with clients for the first time, we assess every individual’s skill level to determine which therapeutic play will be right for them.

The Crab Walk is an activity that involves “heavy work” and also comes with lots of other benefits. It’s a lot of fun for kids to use their imagination to walk like a crab, and the action itself requires core strength, balance, and agility. In order to do the walk, a child sits on the floor on their bottom, then puts their hands on the floor behind them. From there, they can push themselves up using their hands and feet and start walking! They can go forward, backward, sideways… whatever works and feels comfortable for them.

Not only is this activity a whole lot of fun, it also offers considerable exercise and strengthening. Learning to move in this way is also excellent for figuring out how to regulate the sensory system and fine-tune proprioceptive input, which allows kids to figure out how their body exists in the space around it and self-regulate accordingly. It’s easily adaptable for different skill levels. Children who are still building core strength can start low and move slowly, while kids who are comfortable moving well can practice more advanced balancing by “walking” on uneven surfaces or letting an object sit on their belly without falling off. Bilateral coordination, core and joint strength, gross motor control, and body awareness are all improved through this activity. It requires some focus and attention to detail to be able to coordinate hands and feet to move at the same time, as well as paying attention to and assessing the world around them as they walk.

An additional benefit to this activity is that it can be practiced anywhere, even at home. Kids can crab walk in a familiar space and try it out with family members or pets, or even make mazes with their toys to navigate. They may even want to try coming up with other creative animal walks to test out at home with parental supervision. 

At Therapeutic Playground, we work with children on an individual level to best meet their interests and needs. Every activity we do incorporates multiple skills in order to give kids a well-rounded strategy toward solving whatever issues they’re facing. We work on physical, behavioral, emotional, and social levels for the best possible outcome. The Crab Walk is only one of our many activities. For more information, please reach out and ask us anything you like. We look forward to hearing from you!

Britta Foster