Crocodile Crawling – Bizarre Back Relief Exercise Takes China by Storm

Thousands of people in China are taking up “crocodile crawling” classes, a weird type of back relief exercise inspired by the movement of a crocodile.

Multiple news outlets in China have been reporting on a new health trend with dozens of people joining large groups and moving around on all fours. Viral videos shot in large cities like Xiangshan and Changsha show long lines of people all dressed the same and wearing industrial gloves to protect their hands as they slowly move around on their hands and feet. The movement is supposed to strengthen back muscles and relieve back pain if practiced regularly, for a long enough period of time.

Zhu Zhengliang, a new practitioner of crocodile crawling, recently told China’s state-run China Central Television (CCTV) that he took up the new exercise because he had heard that it helped relieve back pain.

The man’s claims were backed up by Li Wei, the head of the “Crocodile Walk” group in Xiangshan, who said that he had struggled with spine problems in the past, but after practicing crocodile crawling for about 8 months, the pain disappeared.

“It looks similar to doing push-ups and moving forward at the same time,” said Chen Xin, an orthopedic surgeon at the Peking University 3rd Hospital in Beijing. “It will reduce the pressure on the intervertebral disc and help improve peripheral strength.”

However, Xin warned that crocodile crawling doesn’t look suitable for people suffering from diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease, because “the exercise raises blood pressure quickly and puts more pressure on the heart than walking”.


This is only the latest bizarre exercise to come out of China. In the past, we featured neck hanging, which is literally hanging by the neck to treat back pain, and even iron shoe training, walking with 150 kg of iron attached to your feet.

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