Don’t do Crocodile walk or Croc crawl the new health fad in China, doctors warn of slipped disc, spinal injury


Crocodile walk crawl China fad

A strange new fitness craze is spreading across China. Called the crocodile crawl, fans claim it leads to a healthier life and relieves spinal pain. (Photo: SCMP)

Some ideas shared on social media websites can be practical and healthy but others can be downright dangerous to health like this Crocodile walk or crocodile crawl that Chinese elderly men seem to be promoting on the internet. This strange new fitness craze is spreading across China. It is dubbed as the crocodile crawl, and without any study or backing by doctors, its fans claim it leads to a healthier life and relieves spinal pain.

According to Chinese media outlet SCMP, the oldest member of the group is 69 years old and he entire group’s coach is Li Wei, who said he himself has felt the benefits of the crawling movements. “I previously had problems with a herniated disc. After doing this for eight months, I don’t feel any pain any more,” Li told CCTV.

This form of crawling exercise by a fast-growing band of followers from eastern China has taken mainland social media by storm. They are so possessed by the idea that like a clan or a cult the members meet dressed in uniforms and chant rhythmic slogans as they crawl like crocodiles on a mountainside jogging track every day.

Indian doctors warn against this risky fad

Doctors in India are wary of patients taking up such risky, unscientific exercises. Dr Rakesh Nair, Consultant Knee Replacement Surgeon at Zen Multispecialty Hospital, Chembur (Mumbai) warned against following this fad. Warning against the risks such unscientific exercises entail, Dr Rakesh Nair said, “Not good at all, Any uneven pressure on the spine although good for balance puts lot of pressure on disc spaces and increases the chances of slipped disc.”

Dr Rakesh Nair Consultant knee replacement surgeon Zen Multispeciality Hospital Chembur
Dr Rakesh Nair, Consultant Knee Replacement Surgeon, Zen Multispecialty Hospital Chembur

Meanwhile, Li Wei’s group that SCMP mentions is not the only one practicing the crocodile walk in China. Dozens of people do similar exercises in Changsha in central China’s Hunan province, the Sanxiang Metropolis News reported.

Crocodile Walk in Hunan province of China
Crocodile Walk group at work in Hunan province of China (Photo: SCMP/

“I read somewhere on the internet that creeping like crocodiles can relieve the symptoms of lumbar vertebra pain which I had been suffering from for years. I then learned how to do this exercise. I should say it is effective,” Changsha crocodile crawler Zuo Guihui told the paper.

Chinese doctors not so alarmed

Chen Xin, an orthopaedist from the Peking University Third Hospital in Beijing (reports SCMP the Chinese daily) said that the crocodile-like crawling movement is not dangerous and is similar in form to doing push-ups but moving forward at the same time. “People’s bodies are flat like that when they swim,” Chen told CCTV. “It reduces the pressure on intervertebral discs and is helpful for improving the surrounding muscle strength.”

But Chen Xin warned that older people and those with shoulder or leg problems should avoid this form of exercise. Xu Shunlin, a cardiologist from the same hospital, said patients with diabetes, hypertension, and heart diseases are also not advised to participate.

“Doing this movement can make your blood pressure spike very quickly and it will place more pressure on your heart than walking,” said Xu.

Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a dietician before starting any fitness programme or making any changes to your diet.


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