Positioning Your Baby
The most common muscle imbalance I see in children is torticollis. One of the ways torticollis can occur is due to improper positioning of an infant.
Wait...What is torticollis"?
Torticollis is when a baby favors looking or turning their head to one side. Often it is associated with a shortened muscle in the neck.
Is a bumbo seat okay?
The short answer is maybe but only for a maximum of 15 minutes at a time for when you really need your hands free. But there are better options.
What about putting my baby into a walker or jumpy?
This is not something that will ever be encouraged by a physical therapist. The muscle and joint alignment in these devices is usually pretty bad. Again, there are better options.
Here is a muscle physiology explanation if you're into that sorta thing....Even you weight lifting mom and dads can appreciate this.
Short muscles are weaker than normal length muscles and lengthened muscles are even weaker than shortened muscles.- Karen Pape, MD, Neonatologist, Author: The Boy Who Could Run But Not Walk.
It's muscle physiology. It doesn't matter what type of animal you are, this is how it is. It also doesn't matter what age you are! The best part about treating muscle imbalances in children is a thing called neuroplasticity. It simply means that you will get the biggest bang for your buck in treating muscle imbalances, such as what is observed in cerebral palsy, down syndrome, brachial plexus injuries, torticollis, etc. if you start intervention EARLY! Neuroplasticity is greatest the first year of a child’s life and slowly declines as we become adults.
But let's get back to ALIGNMENT! To allow for synergistic, or normal movement, body/joint alignment needs to be optimized. Reciprocal inhibition is one of MANY neurological events that occur for normal movement. Simplified, it is when your tricep relaxes and allows for the bicep to contract. Here's an example: the bicep, like when you are bending your arm to put food in your mouth, is contracting and the tricep is relaxing to allow the arm to bend. Imagine if your tricep didn't relax and allow your arm to bend…You’d be so hungry!