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A Good Start

I’m at the age where a lot of my nieces and nephews are having children, which is a lot of fun for me, because I get to tell them stuff they really appreciate, such as:

Don’t put shoes or socks on your kid when they start to walk!

Don’t use a stroller, use your arms!

Don’t let your kid sit on chairs or sofas!

Yes, I’m pretty popular in my family, what with all my helpful hints and suggestions. That’s what being a RES™ does to you, at least in the beginning, when you are all stoked to share the good news with anybody who will listen (and even those who won’t).

The reason I’m so excited for all my newest family members is that they get a chance to do it right, right from the beginning, as opposed to trying to get back all the stuff that slips away during a life lived in a society that values things like high heels, kids that sit quietly all day long, and ergonomic office furniture.

For most of us old folks, our habits can be changed, and we can make some progress towards restoring full range of hip motion and bone density for example, by using standing work stations, walking (far) more often, incorporating whole body movement into our day as much as possible. Most people of my generation grew up walking to school, and being outside unsupervised for an entire childhood. So our developmental window was wide open, whether we (or our parents) knew it or not. We climbed trees and walked for miles in gangs of other kids, hung out in the forest behind the subdivision and built forts.

But what about our kids? What habits are we teaching them from the beginning of their lives? What does sitting from a very early age do to the development of hips and feet, the positioning of internal organs, trunk musculature, bone density levels, and breathing mechanics, at a time when those things are positioned to be developed optimally given the right environment?

This is a picture of my niece’s daughter at about the age of 10 months:


As you can see, she needed no coaching to have a picture perfect squat technique! That is actually a reflex driven, natural movement that all kids come with as part of their “birth kit”. The posterior leg and butt muscles are supporting her, and enabling her to bend over and get that toy or get up off the floor after falling. Her spine is long and extended, and her head is on a neutral long neck.  The shins are perfectly vertical. I watched her do this 50+ times over the course of a couple of hours and she’d only been on her feet for less than two weeks in her entire life.

So now you reading this – yes, you in the chair – try this. Shuffle your bum close to the front edge of that chair and get your shins vertical, then shift your trunk forward like the girl in the picture and stand up without letting your shins go beyond vertical. In other words, don’t let your knees move forward.

Not so easy is it? But a nine month old can do it. And don’t start with the body proportion excuse. I’ll cover that in another post. Now imagine lifting yourself up from a starting position where your butt is lower than your knees! This is the kind of natural, reflex driven movement that people lose if they don’t use.

Yes, we live in a not so perfect world of expensive strollers and iPad apps for toddlers and bumbo seats for babies, but we can make better choices. Keep those kids getting up from the floor, limit their chair usage (try to get a kid to stay in a chair when they don’t want to – why do we train that out of them?), and get them out of the stroller and on their feet whenever possible as soon as they are walking. It might slow you down a bit, but you’ll be developing strong backs and hips and knees for a lifetime!


3 thoughts on “A Good Start

  • Hi Carol
    I loved this post. I got excited about it and have checked into the
    Restorative Exercise Institute. I would love to take this course, I’m saving for it now. I did download the exercises for knees as I am having some issues, this was my second morning working with it. Getting a lot of great information from the blogs too.
    Thank you for this connection. I can so see using this with my clients.

    Best, Liz

  • Liz, you would absolutely love this course! Thanks for reading, and I hope you continue to drop by. I’ll be in touch!

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