Dr. Kristen Mitteness
Children's Spinal Development Affects Ability to Balance
Updated: Apr 3
I love checking the spines of little ones. At birth, my main focus is on their muscle tone around the spine and reflexes. As they age, I'm checking milestones and the reduction of primitive reflexes (reflexes that should only be found in kiddos, typically under the age of 1). I also want to ensure their posture, symmetry, coordination, strength, balance and disposition is developing appropriately.
Once a child is able to take instructions, I check balance and eye movement. This gives me good insight on how the brain and body are communicating with each other. If one side of the child's brain is developing at a different rate than the other, we may see difficulty in balancing on one side or poor eye tracking. If you want more information on this, I highly recommend the book, Disconnected Kids.
I also like to keep an eye on spinal curve development. This starts with baby's tummy time. It is also affected a child's opportunity for movement. Typically, the more they move, in various planes of motion, the better their spine and bodies adapt and the better their curves will develop. When a child sits too much, we will see this process effected.
A study published in 2020 looked at the spinal curves in 312 children between the ages of 8 and 12. It found that when the mid or low back curve was out of the normal range, the child's ability to balance was reduced. We know that the spine houses the spinal cord, and thus the nervous system, so it makes sense that it could effect the ability to balance. This is just one of an ever growing world of studies looking at posture and the spine's role in physical and mental performance.
So, at the end of the day, let and encourage your kiddos move. A LOT. And, you know, get adjusted.