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Walking, how do we learn this?

Why is biomechanics important for you and your children?

Saul Yudelowitz BSc (Hons)

When we are born our skeletal system is still developing and continues to develop throughout our life. This continuation of development is more pronounced than one may realize. There are 206 bones in the adult while an infant has 270. Thatís nearly a decrease of 24%!

When we are born many of our bones are not fused and this is where the difference of 24% originates from. The Sphenoid is in three parts and at a later stage fuses to form one bone. Bones go through a process of ossification. This literally means that they become harder however the biomechanics of the individual, determined from their movement dictates exactly in what plain bones harden and ultimately become stronger.

When we are born bones are very pliable, anyone who has witness the birthing process will agree to this. As we age bones then harden in the position we create from them via our biomechanics. The process of bones hardening is called ossification, the alignment of the skeleton is literally determined by out biomechanics.

Ossification of the sacral ala begins late in the 1st year of life. Complete fusion of the sacrum has been reported to occur between years 25 and 33 of life and is related to the load-bearing aspects of this region or how biomechanical movement occurs. The Femur is the longest bone in the human body. The centre for the head appears in the first year, that for the greater trochanter at three, and for the small trochanter at twelve or thirteen. Fusion of the head epiphysis with the neck, which has become longer, occurs at about eighteen, and the trochanteric epiphyses join the shaft about the same time or a little earlier. The bony lower end remains distinct until twenty-three or twenty-four, when its epiphysial line ossifies ; so the lower part is the growing end of the bone. By the twenty-fifth year the sphenoid and occipital are completely fused.

The properties of bone are toughness (hardness) and elasticity. Bone is composed of an outer compact bone and an inner cancellous tissue. The relative quantity of these two kinds of tissue varies in different bones, and in different parts of the same bone, according to strength and lightness. This is one of the main reasons that only weight bearing activities will strengthen your bones, just scoffing down calcium will not work. You need the raw materials and a reason for you body to use the raw material to build stronger bones.

What is just as important as strong bones is the alignment of the skeleton as this also affects how joints ultimately will function. If a child has a malaligned skeletal system as the bones ossify they will wear out their joints quicker. Today degenerative joints disease is common to see in the third decade of life. The best lesson that you can teach yourself and ultimately your children is how to walk correctly. Just because you can walk it does not guarantee that you are doing this correctly. Since children copy their parents you will walk in a very similar manner to the way your parent(s) walk. The vast majority of movements is based on walking and to be able to walk correctly the SIJís have to be functional. The SIJís donít have much movement. There are two parts to these joints. Typically the joints move between 2-4 degrees, so if you loose between 1-2 degrees of movement you have lost 50% of the SIJís movement. The SIJís are arguably the joints that undergo the most change during our lifetime. Anthropologists assess these joints to estimate the age of a skeleton. Since the SIJís are pliable when we are young it is advisable to have your children taught the correct way to walk between 9-11 years of age.

So, how do you know if you are walking correctly? A great example of how not to walk can be seen by watching professional models on the catwalk. Placing one foot in front of the other to give the appearance of looking slimmer will reduce the ROM of the SIJís.

When walking down the street just look at the person in front of you. If they place the left foot down on the ground and the pelvis swings to the left or the left side of the pelvis rises at any point while the left foot is in the floor the left SIJ will have a compression.

The position we sit in also has a significant affect on the SIJís. Sitting for long periods with a counter nutated sacrum will not only affect the SIJís but also the cervical spine. Professional cyclists and ballet dancers have a very high incidence of SIJ dysfunction.

We learn to walk from a very young age. When we are born we are supine. At about 3 months we begin to grasp objects from the left side with the left hand, as is the same for the right side. At about 5 months we being grabbing objects from the midline with either the left or right hand. At about 6 months we use the left hand to grab an object from the right side, thus crossing the midline. This is a milestone as it educes us to turn into the prone position. From this position we have tactile stimulation and as soon as we can hold our head up we have visual stimulation as well. This next phase is the most important phase of learning to walk. From 10 years experience I have seen parents rushing their children through this phase, the reptilian phase. It is during the reptilian phase that the core muscles begin to contract and when we eventually stand, the effects of gravity on the viscera teach out core how to respond neurologically. This has been witnessed by many parents who have seen their child gain bladder control. What we do early in life has a significant affect on the development of our biomechanics and ultimately our health.

If you would like to contact us to learn how to walk or teach you child(ren) how to walk feel free to contact us.

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