“A bear, however hard he tries, grows tubby without exercise” – Winnie the Pooh

Movement is a fundamental part of life and significantly contributes to a person’s health and wellbeing. The way we move can be described in ‘movement patterns’, which are learned from early reflex movement at birth and continue to evolve into automatic patterns throughout childhood, youth and adulthood. These patterns develop depending on and are influenced by thousands of contributing factors including general health and wellbeing, position and handling, play and environment.

 

Development of efficient movement patterns largely impacts our development in other areas such as:

  • Body awareness,
  • Balance and stability,
  • Gross motor skills including walking, running, jumping etc. and coordination activities (star jumps, vine walking);
  • Fine motor skills including dexterity and writing, and
  • Independent living skills including dressing and feeding.

Physiotherapists trained to work with children, are uniquely skilled in identifying how a child moves – whether he or she demonstrates a ‘jerky’, ‘stiff’, ‘tight’, ‘heavy’, ‘clumsy’ or ‘busy’ pattern, consequently impacting his/her gross motor skills.

If you are concerned about your child’s movement, we encourage you to see a member of our team, or seek the assistance of your GP, Pediatrician or Child and Youth Health nurse.

Movement Patterns

Movement patterns are acquired in different stages, e.g. the pattern for a child learning to roll is learned early and modified over time as are the skills such as reaching for toys. Examples of movement patterns and stages include (but are not limited to):

  • Infants: Tummy time, nappy change, carrying, rolling, seated, four point/crawling, walking, and
  • Children: Walk, run, jump, hop, climb, a child’s movement may be impacted by orthotics or splints (if required), or coordination related activities.
  • Older children; learnt patterns of coordination and movement for team and individual sports, multitasking and growth changes.

Physiotherapists are well skilled at understanding movement patterns. Physiotherapists working with children can work with you and your family in understanding the movement patterns that your child is currently practicing and how to build on these patterns to ensure both yours and your child’s enjoyment of learning to move. We can advise you on appropriate shoe wear and fit orthotics to support body position and walking patterns. Contact our skilled team if you have concerns about your child’s movement or walking.

 

Useful Information Links

http://www.wch.sa.gov.au/

https://www.rch.org.au/kidsinfo/

http://www.physiotherapy.asn.au/APAWCM/Physio_and_You/Children.aspx

https://choose.physio/your-lifestage/infants-and-children

http://www.physiotherapy.asn.au/

Positioning

Chances are you would be very familiar with the Red Noses Campaign about the importance of putting babies to sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of SIDS. However, we must not forget about the importance of placing babies on their tummy to play, but only when they are awake and under direct supervision.

You might be asking yourself though, why is tummy time so important for my babies’ development?

Playing and interacting with your baby on their tummy helps to improve their head and neck control, as it strengthens the muscles of their neck, back and upper body. Muscles which are needed to help your baby reach developmental milestones such as; rolling, sitting, crawling and walking.

As babies spend a large amount of time sleeping on their backs, playing with your baby on their tummy has also been shown to reduce the risk of your baby developing flat spots on their head (positional plagiocephaly).

Tummy time also allows your baby to view and explore the world from a different perspective, developing their sensory experiences.

 

Useful Information Links

https://raisingchildren.net.au/newborns/play-learning/play-ideas/tummy-time

https://rednose.org.au/section/tummy-time

http://www.physiotherapy.asn.au/APAWCM/Physio_and_You/Children.aspx

https://choose.physio/your-lifestage/infants-and-children

Walking

In-toeing or pigeon toed

In-toeing is a common condition where children walk with one or both feet turning inwards. This position could be caused by the position of their foot, lower or upper leg and can in some instances be a normal part of your child’s development. If it begins to become problematic and cause your child concerns, it is wise to seek advice from a health professional.

 

Bow legs (Genu Varum)

Bow legs is characterised where the legs curve outwards at the knees, whilst the heels and ankles are touching. In some instances, this can be a normal part of your child’s development, but if it begins to become problematic and cause your child concerns it is wise to seek advice from a health professional.

 

Toe walking

Toe walking refers to when your child is walking up on the balls of their feet and their heel does not make contact with the floor. Sometimes toe walking can be habitual or behavioural or occur due to other medical reasons. In some instances, children who continually walk up on their tip toes can develop tight calf muscles which make it difficult to be able to stand and walk with their heels flat on the ground. Treatment often varies depending on the severity but in some cases may involve stretching or serial casting to correct the problem.

 

Useful Information Links

http://www.wch.sa.gov.au/

https://www.rch.org.au/kidsinfo/

http://www.physiotherapy.asn.au/APAWCM/Physio_and_You/Children.aspx

https://choose.physio/your-lifestage/infants-and-children

http://www.physiotherapy.asn.au/

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