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Child Development Process
Humans, unlike many animals, are immature at birth. They are immature both in structure (shape of bones and joints) and function (they do not have the ability to perform co-ordinated movements such as walking).
To reach maturity, resulting in upright stance, babies have to go through a ‘developmental period’. This not a ‘learned’ process however – babies are not ‘taught’ how to lift their heads, how to roll or to walk – rather, they go through a predetermined sequence that is stored in the brain.
As the brain matures, and this sequence develops, ‘new’ muscles become integrated in movement patterns. This change in muscle synergy allows the baby to achieve new positions and movements (e.g. first lifting the head, then turning, later sitting and standing).
This maturation of the brain and, thereby, muscular control also changes the structure of the skeleton. Slowly the immature structure of a baby’s bones and joints are re-shaped by new muscle pull, ultimately resulting in mature skeletal features such as spinal curves and arches in the feet.
Take chest shape as an example: The chest of a new-born baby is very short in comparison to its abdomen wall. As the baby develops, this discrepancy should decrease as the maturing brain causes a change in muscle activity.
Problems with Development
If development is compromised, which is estimated to occur to some degree in 20-30% of the population, newborn patterns of muscle function and skeletal shape may persist into adulthood.
Here you can see development was somewhat comprised and the shape of the new-born chest persists.
Other typical muscle imbalances and skeletal deformity resulting from non-ideal development include:
- Flat feet
- ‘Knock knees’
- Forward tilted pelvis
- Slumped spine
This persistence of primitive muscle function and resulting skeletal structure will lead to altered movement patterns and increase the risk of injury.