Babies, Movement, and Lessons From Being A Puppy

Babies, Movement, and Lessons From Being A Puppy

Believe it or not, most of us actually used to have bodies that would move the way they were meant to move. Hips actually had mobility, squats were deep and stable, shoulder blades moved when they needed to and were stable the rest of the time. But eventually, the cultural norms of our society molded us into the stiff, achy, fatigued, cranky individuals many of us can be. Why? Because we’ve forgotten how to move; we sit way more than we should and move way less. Over time, as we settle into these predictable, restrictive types of movement our brain starts to wire abnormal movement circuits that eventually stress out the body, joints and tissues and cause us to develop ______________ (insert whatever body pain currently ails you here). If you think about it, the majority of us move in very limited predictable ranges of motion every day and rarely veer outside of that. Maybe you go see your chiro or massage therapist or acupuncturist, physio, or whomever for treatment, and that feels somewhat better, but then sure enough, days, weeks, months later, that same old ache or pain comes back. Why? Well although your therapy may have temporarily improved the state of the painful area, as soon as you left the clinic you began to move your body again in the same old predictable way.

Why do some people seem to have more problems than others? How come some kids at an early age begin to experience aches and pains befitting someone decades older? Well, in some cases its as simple as the fact that they never learned to move properly in the first place. Gray Cook, co-developer of the Functional Movement Screen likes to say ” Babies come to the world with mobility, but earn their stability.” As you watch a baby in their first year, you can clearly see a progression of movement as they learn to raise their head, then push up with their arms ( First weight bearing joints in the body? Shoulders!), roll over, squat from the bottom up, stand, take a step, fall down, and eventually walk. They have all of the range of motion they need for these tasks, but lack the stability – that, they have to earn as their brain learns to control the mobility they’ve been given.

This is why things like the Exer-saucer are terrible for your baby’s physical development. As great as they may seem for you as a parent because they keep baby occupied and in one place, they allow the baby to start weight bearing on joints that have not yet earned the right to be used that way.  They NEED to be on the floor, exploring movement, challenging gravity, and earning the right to get up off of it.When they short-cut around these movement rights of passage, they end up short-changing their neuromusculoskeletal development, a big fancy-pants word for how the brain learns to move and direct their body.This is also applicable to older kids getting the chance to climb trees, swing from monkey bars, crawl and roll around on the ground, getting dirty and wearing holes in the knees of their pants. Don’t yell at them – they’re actually going to save you money in the long run by not needing the services of people like me!


Recently I had a young patient come in with complaints of headaches and back pain. This young person had really poor posture- rounded shoulders, head positioned too far forward, upper back hunched over. Her kyphosis or hunched forward upper back, was functional – she could straighten up if she tried, but would fatigue very quickly. If I had her go on her hands and knees and try to position her spine so that it was flat, she couldn’t do it. The position she thought was flat was always with her back rounded. So her ability even to perceive what position her back and shoulders were in was significantly limited. Here’s where it gets interesting (Thank goodness right?). As I spoke with her mom, it came out that as a baby this young lady had never learned to crawl. She went right from laying down to sitting up to walking. The period before she could walk she spent scooting around on her bum, pushing herself around that way. But she never spent any time crawling on her hands and knees. So what do you think would be the outcome development-wise for someone’s shoulders and spine who had never spent any time resisting the forces of gravity and learning to control movement? Her brain had never been given the opportunity to learn how to move and stabilize her upper body. And of course these types of movement issues will affect the way the rest of her body moves as well.

The point of all of this was to lead to a great article By Dr Jeff Cubos DC on Lessons From Being a Dog.   In it Dr Cubos talks about the need for developmental movement especially for the shoulders, and has a couple of great exercises to show as well.

Hope you’ve enjoyed reading this. If you’re interested in learning more about developmental movement, corrective exercise, or just really need to see someone about your tired, achy body, give us a call at 519-425-0202 or check out our website at Have a great day everybody!

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