Muscle imbalance and why it may be your parents fault!
Over the past week I have had the opportunity to observe and play around with a few very young children, from 8 months to 3 years old. In doing so, I also had the opportunity to observe how they moved and it got me thinking how they progress their movements as their motor skills develop and they get to experience their environment around them. This can get very complicated so I will keep this as short and simple as possible.
Piaget was a Swiss theorist who believed that children develop and actively learn through the play process. This is very easy to see when we look at young children at a playground, a structure equipped with all the necessary components to put the kids through all sorts of movement patterns and situations. Without diving in to different theories about development let’s look at the basics of physical development.
Development occurs in stage like sequences: the child begins on their back with the only movement being in their limbs and head, which progresses to them being able to control their movement when on their stomachs, then around 6-8 months they begin the locomotive part of development which involves them crawling on all fours, to learning how to squat and pulling to stand (really…. this isn’t a joke, and I say that because anyone who knows me knows I LOVE squats), to learning how to walk while holding an secured object, to walking while holding an adult hand, to finally walking on their own. After they have mastered the final stage, they experiment by going backwards, diagnol, side to side, and running.
Take a look at each stage. Then take a look at some of the exercises we do in a gym. It is unbelievable how similar most of them are to the actual progression of our own motor development as children. Let’s go back to the squat. A child has the PERFECT squat because they have not developed these muscle imbalances through a lifetime of prolonged sitting and improper movement patterns. When it comes to growth we do not grow as rapidly at any time in our first twenty years as we do in the first few years of our life. So in these critical stages, if anything goes wrong it can affect our movement as an adult. Nutrition and strength determine how accurate and easily a muscle moves as a child. Our frontal lobe, which usually develops back to front, is very important as well because the hind portion of our frontal lobe mainly controls our motor functions, while the anterior portion develops logic. This is why we develop physical dexterity before we are able to establish rationale in the world around us. Other factors can come into play. As Piaget suggested, children learn by playing. If a child is hindered by socio-economic reasons (not being able to participate in sports due to poverty) or a sheer ignorance of the importance of these early movements (over protective parents) they will experience a delay in their motor function and as a result, develop problematic motor skills as an adolescent and adult, not to mention a possibility of a severe lack of social skills.
Children develop and learn as a result of practice and playing. So let your kid get out there, let them play, let them get hurt, but most of all, let them learn.
That’s it for this week!
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