I love to watch children play. What a blur! Wiggle, crawl, stretch, run, dance, kick, prance, leap, bounce, roll, pounce, waddle, shimmy, and shake. Go here, go there, and then come back again on tiptoe. Hop like a frog, gallop like a horse, spin like a top.
Motion is a magic potion, an elixir. Young children crave it and literally can’t get too much of it.
They never stop. Or so it seems.
The pure joy that children take in moving is truly fascinating. There’s nothing grudging or burdensome about it. They seem enchanted, intoxicated, enraptured by motion. There’s almost a touch of the supernatural.
I want to give you a couple fun and exciting examples of how magical motion is with the purpose of inspiring you to rediscover your childlike love of movement and play, and in doing so watch how your body and life magically transform.
An 8 year old girl was brought into our clinic because she has not been feeling good running lately. She doesn’t “hurt” she says, but she has noticed she is not running normally anymore. Her dad also noticed that her running looked funny and brought her in to see us. I take a look at her and it was easy to see why running isn’t feeling good: her hip is elevated and rotated forward on one side, her torso is rotating the opposite way to counter balance her hips, and her knees and feet are collapsing in, attempting to stabilize her body – but it’s not working. Everything is off. I have her walk across the room several times and then run across the room to see her body in motion. It’s painful to watch. Nothing is moving straight ahead and there’s a noticeable limp as she is avoiding her unstable hip.
What do we do? She is an active 8 year old, constantly in motion. Supine Groin Stretch is never going to work with her – at least not yet. I have to give her something she can feel affect her body right away. Something active...
“Yeah. Like this?” As she starts across the floor.
“Yes, but get your knees and hips lower and try to keep everything going straight ahead.”
“Ok, is this better?”
“Yes. Now go across the room – back and forth – twice.”
When done, she stands up still breathing hard. I immediately notice her hips are more level and the rotation is almost gone.
“Ok.” I say, “Now walk across the room. What feels different?”
“Whoa! It feels so much better,” she said with a big smile.
Dad’s jaw drops. The simple motion of bear crawls had a magical effect on her body. One minute of movement was enough to remind her body that it is a biped and is designed to be balanced. And it was enough to put a smile back on her face – the joy of motion she was so accustomed to but had lost shortly had returned.
Let’s go to the opposite end of the spectrum. An older woman came into our clinic who had been suffering with a painful degenerative hip for years. She used to be active but had stopped all exercise years ago as her hip had become more and more painful and limiting. She had been dead set on avoiding a hip replacement, but was at the point where she thought there were no other options. She walked with a very noticeable limp and you could see the pain on her face. But there was a window of hope…
We had looked at her posture and talked about what was out of balance and were going through several functional tests to see her body in motion and something jumped out. Even though her hip was very painful she had pretty good range of motion in the joint and this was very evident when I asked her to touch her toes. She put her palms flat to the floor without a problem – something most people 1/2 her age couldn’t dream of doing. This got me thinking that we might be able to give her something that we wouldn’t give most people in her condition. Bear crawls!
We needed something that would teach both sides of her body to work equally while effecting her thoracic flexion and reminding her leg and pelvis how to communicate with each other.
“I want you to do this:” And I got down on the floor and bear crawled across the room and then stood up to see her giving me a look that said “you want me to do what?! Did you forget that I have an arthritic hip that needs replacing?!”
“Try it, you’ll be fine.” (Crossing my fingers behind my back, hoping I was right.)
She got down and slowly starting figuring it out. At first her hip dropped every time she tried to load it, but after ten steps she got smoother and I encouraged her to let her shoulder blades collapse together. By the time she got to the end of the room and turned around to come back she was looking like a natural.
“Stand up and walk around and tell me what’s different,” I said, hoping it would be a “good” different!
I immediately knew it was a good different as her limp was greatly decreased and she looked much more upright in her upper body.
“It feels smoother…easier…almost effortless.” She paused, “And it doesn’t hurt,” she said with the sound of surprise in her voice.
Could 20 steps of a bear crawl fix the bone-on-bone condition in her hip? No. But it can start to correct the faulty movement pattern that created the joint degeneration in the first place. The smile on her face as she wiped a drop of sweat from her temple said it all.
Have you discovered the magic of motion?
Why Joints Fail and How to Prevent it.
Supine Groin Stretch
Knee Joint Osteoarthritis
Doctor's Miracle Drug: The Exercise Cure