Day 2 Handling Skills: Muscle and Bone

Feeling the Floor

The idea is to let the child feel the floor - this is the essence of being able to get up in gravity, and of relaxation. The more surface (or floor) we are feeling below us, the better we can relax. Think about the difference between sitting on a barstool, and sitting on a deep sofa. This is what we would like to let the child feel. Feeling the difference between bone and muscle has a similar effect in gravity: we don`t have to train muscles to help us to be erect in gravity. Actually, it should be the bones carrying us and working against gravity - muscles should be coordinated to put the bones in the right position, like an internal scaffolding. This idea is often missing in children that had to use too much effort, for instance, to lift their head.

Remember

  • You might want to do this lesson in a quiet moment, possibly in the evening.
  • For this lesson use, a soft mattress - usually harder floors encourage movement better.
  • You can do this lesson with our without clothes.
  • When you are putting weight on the body, press only one area at a time.
  • You can put both hands on the pelvis, but press only one side down, then the other. This will create movements in the hips and spine, and also already imitate a walking rhythm.
  • Work with very soft hands.
  • Make yourself as comfortable as possible - your child will feel the difference. If it helps to rest the elbows on the floor or sit next to the bed on a chair, those are perfect ideas.
  • Whatever you will discover, the child will feel as well on some level.

Feeling muscle and bone

  • try it on yourself first. Keep your hands as soft as possible.
  • Gently pull the muscles a bit away from the bone where it is possible.
  • Go around the rigcage and try to feel the single ribs. Where do they go?
  • Don`t put pressure on the bones themselves (especially along the spine)

Am I getting it Right?

Here are some questions I received for this lesson:

Is it okay to lean on my elbows while doing it? Which side should I start on? If I start on the right arm, does that mean I start on the right leg as well? What should I do if the child changes the position before I finished on one side? How exactly do you use the fingers in the face - do you press down, or do small circular movements? My child is larger. Is it okay if I sit at the side of the head, not the feet?

Well, I don`t really know.

This comes naturally after a time. I go one arm at a time and then the other, to let the child compare both arms. Or I do one side first, then the other - stimulating fist one part of the brain, then the other. With a child with hemipareses, I might do only the "weaker side". Or I change track and move with a child. All are useful experiences. My choices are not arbitrary, and experience helps me to make the "right" - or "better" decisions. But there are no wrong decisions to be made! You will get there another time. And yes, of course, it also makes sense to see a specialist as well.

Small rotations provide helpful variations and information, yes. But if you concentrate too much on them, it will draw your attention away from what you are actually feeling.

My best answer would be: we still have the same nervous system we had as children when we learned to act in the world and perform complex movements. Logical thinking came much later.

If we switch that part of us on, being really, really curious about it, and forgetting the rest - then we are directly communicating with the child`s experience. My internal dialogue would not be: "I have been so worried about this arm, I hope this will help. I should put my hand here - let me check the video again. She is pressing down five times on this side..." A child`s internal dialogue would be focused on the experience, without judgment or ulterior motives: "Hey wow. Look at that. I found a soft spot with a knubbly something. This feels good. I didn`t know I could put my fingers in-between there. Is that a bone? This is boring, let`s go somewhere else. That feels like the string of a marionette. Where does this one go?"

If you can get lost in the experience, the rest will follow. Enjoy!