We all come in for a treatment when we feel things aren’t right, in pain or just to be checked. But how often are we checking our kids?
As you have probably been told by one of our practitioners, the way the foundation of our body (hips and pelvis) is formed can have a huge genetic component to it.
So if you are using the Dynamic Therapy to correct your hip angles and you have had different issues over the years with your hips and pelvis, just imagine how your child’s skeletal system may be affected or could be affected in the future.
Prevention is always better than cure, and now might be the time to have your child’s skeletal system screened, rather than possibly waiting until they end up in the same situation you are in.
This month we are going to discuss how our musculo-skeletal system is formed and the changes that take place during our childhood.
We will also be discussing the ways in which we treat the different age groups.
The primary premise of all our work at Spinal Symmetry is that structure governs function.
In the adult body, this structure begins with the hip angles and the pelvis forming the foundation of the skeletal system.
The main factor that contributes to this foundation is, that as adults we exist in gravity. It is the interplay between the angles of the hips transferring the force through our bodies, and also the hip ligaments holding these angles that play a big part in creating a stable foundation for the rest of the body.
This premise of structure governing function is not applied in small children who are not standing in gravity, as their hip angles have not yet formed completely and the ligaments are not yet supporting the joint.
Assessment and Treatment- Newborns to Toddlers
As this age group is not yet existing in gravity, the assessment and treatment of newborn babies through to toddlers is very different.
When we are born, the bones that make up the skeletal system are only partial bones. The majority of a newborns skeletal system is actually cartilage rather then bone. This is how they are able to mold and move to be able to be born through the mother’s pelvis.
Unlike adults, newborns don’t have strong ligaments holding the skeletal system together as these ligaments only strengthen once they are weight bearing ie. crawling and walking.
The cartilage bones that initially make up a baby’s skeletal system are actually mainly held together by the fascia and the dura from the spinal cord.
Fascia is a glad wrap like substance that envelopes structures in our body, holding it all together in place and in the correct position. It forms a web-like formation between structures.
Dura is the outer substance of the brain and spinal cord.
It is what covers the spinal cord within our spinal column.
Its job is to hold the brain and spinal cord in place and to also protect both of these important structures.
The dura is attached at one end to the cranium (skull) and the other end at the sacrum.
The three main areas of focus when assessing and treating newborns through to toddlers, is the cranium, diaphragm andsacrum.
The cranium consists of 26 bones that make up our skull and face. These bones can easily move on each other in newborns and it is how the brain and nervous system receives all of its energy sources- through the bones pulsating on each other to move the cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) around the brain and spinal cord.
If there is an issue with the cranium it can affect the development of the baby. This is because the CSF acts like blood and delivers the nutrients to our nervous tissue so it is able to grow and develop.
The diaphragm is the are part we look at, as it is the big muscle that attaches to the bottom of our ribs.
Its job is to expand and deflate the lungs.
In a newborn this is vitally important, not only so they can breathe, but this movement of the ribs travels up the body and also helps to generate the movement of the CSF as discussed earlier in the cranial bones.
The final area of focus in this age group is the sacrum.
This is because the dura attaches to it and secures the spinal cord in place.
If there are any issues here, it can place pressure on the spinal cord and again, possibly affect the babies development.
This is because the nervous system isn’t able to move efficiently and carry out its full function via the CSF.
Other areas your practitioner may want examine in a newborn to toddler is how they are developing.
This involves how the baby is progressing through the different milestones, and any other issues that have occurred from either birth trauma or spills and tumbles as they start to be more adventurous or maybe even if Granny accidentally dropped Johnny!
In a developing child, it will mainly be soft tissue structures that might need to be addressed, so the amount of force needed to achieve a positive change is very minimal.
The adjustments performed in this age group are completelydifferent to the adjustments that are performed on your body.
Very slight pressure- the amount you would place on your eyeball before pain- is directed in the correct manner to achieve a positive correction on a child.
The child’s movement is also used to aid in the correct movement of the fascia- this is another form of an adjustment in a child.
Assessment and Treatment- Toddlers to Preschool
The next age group where our assessment and treatment changes is in toddlers up until preschool age children.
In this age group the joints are starting to form as the child starts to crawl and walk.
This movement exposes them to the gravitational forces that affect the hip angles.
As we spoke about earlier, when we are born we are mainly cartilage, rather then bone, and we don’t have joints as we know them as adults just yet.
This process of turning into bone and joints takes time. Most joints are formed by age 3-4 and don’t form into complete bone until our 20’s.
This group’s major focus in assessment and treatment is on how they are developing from a fascial, soft tissue being, into a joints and bone being.
By assessing the newly formed skeletal system, we are able to determine where the child is on this spectrum of development. Depending on your child, work may need to be performed on the soft tissue structures of the dura and fascia to help them to develop correctly, or your child’s body may be ready for work on the joints themselves, especially at the hip angles, which are where the predominate forces on the entire skeletal system develop.
This age group is starting to progress from rolling and crawling into walking.
If you have ever seen a child try to learn to walk they fall over a lot! This falling is trauma to the sacrum and pelvis.
This can affect how their hip angles are forming in gravity, and can possibly be the beginning of lifelong low back pain.
The good news is, if you can minimize the effects of this early trauma, it is generally much easier to correct.
This is because these falls are more likely to cause soft tissue injuries such as strains and bruising rather then joint restrictions, as they might be if you had the same fall as an adult.
These strains might not sound serious, but they could possibly be the start of a strain pattern your body incorporates later in life, if left to develop in this way.
Once children reach school age, their hips and pelvis have formed in gravity and we can now fully assess their skeletal system in the usual Spinal Symmetry methodology that you are familiar with.
If required, they can now be corrected and utilize the Dynamic Therapy to assist in how these angles have formed.
Children often do not have all the compensations that we as adults have, for the mere fact that they have not had the time to accumulate any issues as long as we have.
This makes it much easier to treat in a majority of cases because we are not trying to remove layers of compensation that may have built up over years.
In addressing children’s skeletal systems, we are in fact addressing mostly primary issues, and are able elicit a quick response to this.
For this reason alone, we believe this is why it is so important to have your child looked from an early age, to potentially save years of biomechanical issues down the track.
If you would like to discuss anything written in this article, or wish to have your child assessed on how they are developing, please don’t hesitate to contact one of our practitioners.