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Balanced body structure, and healthy body function. The role of osteopathy for children.

From the moment we are born, we are on the path of growth according to our genetic plan. What is often overlooked is the importance of body function to allow each of us to reach our structural genetic potential.

Examples of this include the baby who prefers to sleep with their head turned to the one side (imbalanced body function) and the flattening of the head, which occurs on that side (imbalanced body structure).

plagiocephaly

Another example is the baby or child who adopts the habit of breathing through their mouth (alteration in body function) and the compensatory facial growth that occurs (alteration in body structure).

Facial profiles of two sisters. Kelly (left) 9yrs corrected her mouth breathing a few years prior. Samantha (right) 10 and a half yrs continued to mouth breathe. Case reproduced from www.buteykochildren.com.

Facial profiles of two sisters. Kelly (left) 9yrs corrected her mouth breathing a few years prior. Samantha (right) 10 and a half yrs continued to mouth breathe. Case reproduced from www.buteykochildren.com.

It is now well accepted that the muscles of the tongue, lips and cheeks play a major role in tooth position, jaw and facial development. The healthy resting position of the tongue is at the roof of the mouth, the teeth are touching or slightly apart, and the lips are together without strain. When a child grows up with proper oral posture the face develops in appropriate balance according to its genetic plan.

This is a view of the tongue in the mouth, looking from the back of the throat. A) Correct tongue position at the roof of the mouth. The sides of the tongue exert pressure on the upper teeth and help to form an wide ‘U’ shaped upper dental arch. B) Lowered tongue position as in mouth breathing, associated with a more narrow upper dental arch.

This is a view of the tongue in the mouth, looking from the back of the throat. A) Correct tongue position at the roof of the mouth. The sides of the tongue exert pressure on the upper teeth and help to form an wide ‘U’ shaped upper dental arch. B) Lowered tongue position as in mouth breathing, associated with a more narrow upper dental arch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The osteopath’s role in the care of babies and children is to remove physical tension from the body, which may contribute to an array of different symptoms that commonly present in childhood.

Childhood conditions commonly presenting our osteopaths include, but are not limited to:

babies-and-children-image- infantile unsettledness, infantile colic, gastro-oesophageal reflux
- feeding difficulties, digestive discomfort
- head shape concerns, postural asymmetry
- breathing difficulty, asthma, inner ear and recurrent respiratory symptoms
- pain, headaches and physical injury

Osteopathy aims to facilitate healthy function in all areas of growing bodies, by freeing up muscles and joints, improving blood flow and maintaining postural balance.

Balanced body posture gives a baby, or child, the best chance of balanced body function, and balanced body function allows for the body structure to grow as nature intended.

Talk to our paediatric osteopaths, Melissa McDougall, Elizabeth Dwyer and Amanda Bell to find out how osteopathy may support the growth of your child, call us on 03 9687 3040, or make an appointment using our secure online booking tool.

About the Author

Melissa McDougall