Childhood Development

This week Dr Demi is thirsty for BRAINS!

More specifically children’s brains. As Chiropractors, we focus on how well your spine moves.  How your spine moves profoundly affects the function of your brain and nervous system. 90% of the stimulation your brain receives is through movement, so it is an important part of staying healthy.

Did you know that we have 230 joints in the body and as infants we actually have substantially more but that number changes over time. Joints are designed to move and it is this movement which fires receptors that tell the brain where you are in space. As soon as a joint is subluxated (restricted in its movement) you lose that awareness in your brain and therefore it is not able to control the body (organs, muscles, glands) efficiently.

For children’s development and brain health, movement is SO important, particularly during the school year.

During the summer and holiday seasons, they can run around, play, jump and be as active as they can. During the school year, they are sitting in desks for 7 or more hours per day. We know that being sedentary and sitting affects the health of our spine by increasing the compressive load through our lower back – whether we feel pain or not.

The way that schools are set up can be detrimental for young boys especially. Boys need to move more in order to learn because it is this movement that floods the brain with sensory input which affects our ability to retain information. Around exam time it is movement that is an incredibly powerful addition to optimise learning.

Studies have shown that:

  1. Strength training – body weight increases your memory retention for the next few hours. If you can walk and read/listen to a lecture that also improves retention.
  2. When you sit your brain can only focus for 30 minutes – if you are trying to learn something and you’ve been – moods improved, better retention and recall.
  3. Aerobic exercise – running, swimming, brisk walking, cycling, dancing can improve your problem solving!

As Chiropractors, we help to influence the nervous system by restoring function of the spine, allowing it to move and it is that movement which is vital in the health of the brain. Regular adjustments during the school year can be really beneficial in keeping them focused, calm and getting their brains functioning optimally.

A question we get a lot is why do we see toddlers and babies in practice?

When we are born, we have this incredible neurological potential for growth and development which affects how we move and think as we get older. These patterns and habits are influenced by our senses (what we see, hear, taste, smell, feel). The more we experience the same things, the stronger the connections become in our brain. Our brain grows exponentially in the first 2 years of life and whatever potential we haven’t utilised our brain can go through a pruning process – meaning we can lose brain cells as we grow and develop!

When toddlers begin to walk and move, they are falling a lot as we can see from the various lumps and bumps on our special guest Miles. Regular Chiropractic checks are important as the impact of these falls can cause subluxations in the spine. We also find that stimulation into the feet as bubs are starting to walk is also really important. Being barefoot more often helps to increase stimulation into the brain and is important to create the arches in our feet – (to find out more about the benefits of being barefoot check out our barefoot blog here).

We know that learning to walk comes with a number of tumbles just as play comes with lots of knocks and falls off monkey bars, bikes, scooters, rolled ankles, tackles at rugby or by other siblings. It is these stressors which impact why we get good spinal health and bad spinal health. You can think of your spine like your skin – we only have 1 skin, we only have 1 spine, what your skin goes through as a child will have an effect on your skin as an adult. What we put our bodies through from the day that we are born has the potential to follow us through adulthood – there is a reason why some joints deteriorate quicker than others –  it comes down to how well has the joint moved over time and what load has it been put under. This is why we love seeing children from birth because by ensuring optimum spine and nervous system health from birth we hope that it flows into childhood, adulthood and into future generations – remember there is no process in the body that occurs without input from the brain and nervous system!

The reason why parents bring their children to the practice is because they understand that as their child’s brain is growing, if there is imbalance through the spine and areas of subluxation, the brain will not receive feedback from those areas and may miss out on VITAL information. These subluxations may not create problems in the present but if they are not corrected that continued loss of input can create problems in motor development, learning and behaviours that may not become evident for 5-20 years. We encourage parents to have a proactive mindset regarding their child’s health – what can we do now to improve their health or ensure that their little one is growing up to function at their best.

Do you know of any children or parents who may benefit from incorporating Chiropractic into their life? If so, please don’t hesitate to get in contact via email or on 020 7350 1100.