Movement is very important for young children. The movement patterns, strategies and habits that we learn at a very young age can affect us into adulthood. There are two critical times in childhood when important milestones and musculoskeletal changes are taking place. During these times, movement is especially important and can have a lasting effect on our postures, neuromuscular systems, bones and joints. It makes logical sense that one of these critical times is when infants and toddlers start learning how to move around and interact with the environment. The second critical time is during adolescence during their growth spurts when their bones might be growing faster then their muscle and connective tissues. These changes can affect how young adults move and the postures and movement strategies they will eventually adopt. Below are some pointers and ideas to consider to foster healthy movement in your children:
Infants and Toddlers
- Get your infants/toddlers on the floor while they play, explore and move
- Encourage them to crawl forward, backwards, to move up and down and upside down. Allow them to move safely in a variety of different ways
- Keep your little ones out of chairs and stools. Chairs and stools can interfere with normal movement at the hips and will result in poor flexibility of hip joints at a young age
- If they must be in a chair, limit “chair time” and make sure their feet are flat on the ground.
- Apply rule number 4 to toilet seats. Make sure there is a stool under their feet, have them lean forward so that their pelvis and low back are in optimal position
- Encourage your children to play in their deep squat
- Teach your teenagers how to use a foam roller or rolling pin in tight areas on their bodies. Usually teenagers can identify where they feel tight and tense
- Encourage healthy yoga stretches for the active child to encourage flexibility in the muscles and joints. You wan to ensure the muscle system can accommodate growing bones.
- Don’t let your teens lose the ability to long sit (sitting with your legs out in front of you)
- Practice long sitting by sitting on the floor and playing board games with your children or create other activities that can be done on the floor together with the family
- Encourage cross training. This means ensuring that your child is participating in a variety of different sports, activities so that their body can learn how to move well in many different ways (ie fast, slow, standing, sitting, jumping, running, biking, kicking etc).
It is also very important to remember that children will mirror and model parents movement patterns and postures. Be a good model and don’t let them learn from any bad habits you have picked up. We believe it is important to practice healthy moving and healthy living. Our physiotherapists, chiropractors and massage therapists are movement specialists. They can provide additional information if you have any questions or concerns. Talk to one of our specialists today.
Shoes for Young Kids
- Foot needs to be mobile
- Keep them in light shoes, open flip flops
- Spreading toes
- Playing with marbles with toes
- Bare foot
- Feet in the sand
- Flexible, soft shoes
- Be able to bend the shoe and twist the shoe
Ideas for this blog were adapted from a podcast with Diane Lee on Physio Edge: www.physioedge.com.au