In addition to massage with a complex of gymnastics, joint exercises for 0-3 month old babies effectively develop motor skills and intelligence capabilities. Joint exercises include a number of isolated passive joint movements performed with your help.
These exercises should be done very carefully and gently so as not to damage the delicate ligaments and stretch baby’s muscles. Take your time with the introduction of the new motions, do this gymnastics only after the main complex has been performed. This is necessary for the muscles and ligaments of the joints to be warm and to prevent injuries. You can start developing small joints – wrists and feet – from the age of 1.5-2 months old, larger joints (especially shoulder and hip ones) are being developed at a later age.
Note! You can perform the joint exercises only once you have consulted your doctor and if your baby does not have inherent diseases of the locomotor apparatus or the connective tissue. If your baby is ill (if there are no direct contraindications) the gymnastics, like massage, is being performed very gently and carefully.
At the age of 2 weeks to 2.5 months the articular gymnastics is performed first of all by stretching muscle groups of the flexor surfaces. Excessive stretching and movements with a force at this age are absolutely contraindicated!
Joint exercises take a little time, and four joint groups on each hand or leg are being developed: wrists and feet joints, radiocarpal or ankle joints, elbow and knee joints, shoulder and hip joints.
Start doing exercises with the small hand joints. Place the baby’s palm on your straightened palm and gently press down on the baby’s fingertips. Then do the same with baby’s bottom of the palm, press down carefully, without much effort. Thus radiocarpal joint is being developed and strengthened. All the time watch the reaction of your baby. The slightest signs of discontent and especially pain on his face demand the gymnastics to be immediately stopped.
Keep massaging the wrist joint this way: fix baby’s forearm with your one hand, and take his wrist with the other one (as if to shake hands), and perform light gentle swinging from side to side (3 times in each direction), then rotational motion and not sharp (and not jerky) stretching (3-4 times).
Elbow massage. Fix baby’s lower part of a shoulder with your one hand and perform swinging in a soft low tone with the other one (3-4 times), then perform bending (3-4 times), slight rotation (4-3 times) and gentle stretching.
Shoulder joint exercises are performed later in childhood, and starting from two weeks old the joint development complex includes putting baby’s hands behind his head (hands up) in a supine position. Baby lying on his back, take his hands and put them up. Your baby will reflexively straighten his legs with the help of extensor muscles. Repeat this movement 3-4 times. Once your baby is one month old, you can stretch his hands a bit harder by putting them behind his head. After exercising baby’s hands, shake them. Gymnastics for the hand joints is performed in a supine position.
Having performed this gymnastics, place your baby on his tummy and start exercising leg joints.
Exercise for the foot joints is done very gently and carefully, because there are many diverse reflexes in the feet in early infancy which may interfere with the training. All reflexes are caused by sharp and hard touching a foot, so your movements and clasp should be soft and slow.
Extension of toes is not an easy task. Toes are very small and delicate, so sometimes it is difficult to work out each one, and toes are being straightened simultaneously. To do this, place the edge of your one hand or a little finger in the fold between the toe pads and the foot, and support the back of baby’s foot with the other hand at the same time. The first hand, while sliding slowly down the toes, straightens them simultaneously. Repeat the motion 5 times.
Small joints of the foot. Place the edge of your one palm along the foot in the middle. Push slightly and slowly the back of baby’s foot with the other hand, as if bending its outer edges. Repeat 3-5 times.
Exercises for the ankle and knee joints are similar to those for the wrist and elbow joints. Having done joint exercises, shake your baby’s legs.