Walking

“The ability to walk upright, is the most fundamental acquisition of movement, a gesture permeating the whole of human life”. Karl Konig

It is necessary to understand that the whole human being is engaged in every movement he makes, because the movement of one part of his body include the state of rest of the other parts that are not actively engaged in this movement. This means that the resting condition of some parts of the body is never passive but always an active function. The entirely bodily apparatus of movement is used for walking and the arms are engaged as much as the legs. Also,the muscles of the back and chest are as intimately involved as are those that move eyeballs.
When I bend my arm, then I must, in order to make this flexion possible, not only actively relax the extensors of the arm in question, but all other muscles must form an active support to counter-balance this flexion.

Extension-Flexion

So, we can conclude that in the realm of movement, the entire bodily apparatus of movement is a functional unity.. As little as single letters alone give meaning to the word, or single words the sentence, just as little does a series of single muscles move a limb of the body.

The development of human walking
The child’s ability to move does not begin after birth but already exists during fetal development. from the end of the second month of pregnancy onward, movements of the fetus can be detected. After birth, the child possesses a general mobility from which certain specific forms of movement stand out as expressions of well-being distributed over the whole body. Soon, after birth, the baby can perform:

– sucking movements
– breathing movements
– repulsion about by fear causes movement
– completely aimless and uncoordinated kicking movements
– dissociated eye movements

Controlled eye movements take place remarkably quickly and stand out from the general chaos of kicking movements, even during the first days of life. This is the beginning, however, of the process of movement that will be completed at the end of the first year when the child has learned to walk.

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The process
The process of learning to walk proceeds according to a definitely ordered sequence that starts at the head and neck and gradually extends downward to the chest, arms, back and finally to the legs and feet.

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Generally speaking, the child achieves the coordination of eye movements immediately after birth and this is the beginning of his ability to look. Around the focus of looking, the head emerges as a structure belonging to the self.
During the first three months, the head gradually becomes fixed and the child learns to master movements of the head and neck. As his gaze gradually becomes fixed, the different forms of the environment can start to be touched and grasped.
So, during the second quarter, when not only his eyes, but also his hands begin to grasp objects, then the trunk, including arms and hands, stands out as a whole against the world. He is grasping. By the end of this period he has learned to sit freely.
In the third quarter the child discover his legs, his eyes begin to extend their gaze further into space while his hands grasp closer things. Now his hands can also grasp the edge of the cradle and they can hold on to it. The child begins to practice standing pulling himdself up into an upright position for the first time.
At last, during the last quarter, the child stands over into his first uncertain steps and experiences his feet as organs touching the ground. The world, no longer strange, turns into something that can be conquered by a freely moving being.

First Quarter Eyes-Fixed Gaze Head and Neck
Second Quarter Arms and Hands Grasping-Sit Freely
Third Quarter Legs Practice Standing
Fourth Quarter Sole of Feet Walking Upright

Therefore, the developmental process of movement, is shifted from the head down over the chest and legs into the feet, following a course through the body from above downwards.
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It becomes evident that this is the meaning of the erect body posture. In standing erect man raises himself to a position that continually demands that he come to terms with the earth’s gravity.
The head is the first member to withdraw from chaotic movement. Just as in birth the head is the first part of the body to emerge and is gradually followed by the rest of the body, so here, out of the womb of dissociated movements, coordinated movement is born and oriented step by step toward standing and walking.
The child does not learn to walk by learning to bring certain muscular movements under control. He begins to control movements through a waking of consciousness that gradually brings the body to stand out from its environment as a separate self. Walking erect is not a simple process of movement that makes locomotion possible. Learning to walk is a process that begins with “looking”, continues in “grasping” and culminates in “walking”.

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At the end of the first year, the process of the birth of movement is completed. The head is directed upward and the feet touch the earth. The head acquires a position of rest and becomes the resting point around which the free and harmonious movement of the limbs can take place. Once an upright position has been achieved, the limbs must constantly come to terms with the gravitational forces of space.

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The secondary nestling
By achieving his first steps as an upright being the child has also taken his first step away from being a creature to becoming a creator. At this point, it is obvious that walking upright is not a simple process of movement that makes locomotion possible. Learning to walk, reveals a process of separation between self and world. A developing consciousness that takes the child to perceive the environment as the “outside”. This awakening consciousness of his own self and the “outside” world started from the gaze of his eye over the grasp of his hands to the step of the feet.
For all of we said here, it is fair enough to say that the first year of human life is of special significance and setting this first year apart from the intra uterine life, we can call this period as an “extra-uterine spring season” (Portmann)or “the secondary nestling” of the child.
To learn to walk takes the same amount of time as that required by the earth to circle the sun, which suggests that this sun-earth rhythm is inscribed in this human faculty and this earthly acquisition of the ability to walk is placed in the cosmic time relationship between sun and earth.

The stages
According with the hungarian pediatrician, Emmi Pikler (1902-1984), when an adult intervenes in a child’s movement and play, not only is there a disturbance of the autonomy of the situation, but the adult’s own goals are substituted for the child’s interest, and this intervention creates an unnatural dependency on the adult.
Let the baby develop according to his own laws. Let us not force the infant to do any movement. it is just a simple matter of offering him the opportunity or, more precisely, not to deprive him of his opportunity, to move according to his inherent ability. If one does not interfere, an infant will learn to turn, roll, creep on the belly, go on all fours, stand, sit and walk with no trouble.It takes about two years of the life of a child to learn the basic elements of movement. In this period of time, the helpless newborn, who can’t do anything but wave her arms and legs around, develops into a child who moves with intent and is able to grasp, stand, sit and walk.
This is a calendar that shows approximately the typical stages, even though we already said that early development, as far as a time schedule is concerned, is not the same for all children.

1st month The child’s eyes begin to fix their gaze
2nd month The child, in belly-down position, begins to hold his head upright.
3rd month The child, in belly-down position, can lift his head and shoulders together.
4th month When placed belly-down, he can support himself on the palms of his hands. He begins to reach for objects that he has found by touch.
5th month He has learned to turn from his back onto his side, and he is also able to grasp objects he has seen.
6th month the child is able to sit up with support.
7th month the child begins to move away from a position of rest. He tries to get desired objects by changing his position
8th month He now sits independently and begins to crawl.
9th month The child learns to raise himself to a sitting position without support. He learns to kneel and begins to stand with support.
10th month He is able to throw things.
11th month The child can raise himself and stand by holding on to something.
12th month He can stand freely and with a little help and support take his first steps.

So, again, we say what is most important, however, is not the result, but the way to it. this learning process will play a major role in the whole later life of the human being. Through this kind of development, the infant learns his ability to do something independently, through patient and persistent effort while they learn how to learn with joy and satisfaction.

The natural unfolding of Movement

Summarizing
From the development of looking and grasping on to the acquisition of walking, a new power unfolds. This force first takes hold of the eyes, fixing sight into line, and thus makes possible the fixation of the gaze. It directs the arms and hands of the body toward purposeful movements, and the hands learn to grasp, to fold and to hold each other. Finally, the soles of the feet touch the ground. From the heels to the toes they enter the field of gravity and the head is lifted, reaching into the light.
Thus a new element enters that can be attributed only to man and to no other creature on earth. Rudolf Steiner calls this entity, “I”. Through his “I” every human being can receive the gift of grace of walking. When it appears in the form of uprightness, all other forms of movement recede and disappear and arrange themselves around the power of uprightness.
From this it can be seen how fundamentally important walking is for the soul-development of man. If we did not learn to walk, further development of the conscious unfolding of the specific human faculties in the course of childhood would not be possible.

“It is the sun power that raises the earthly body of man so he can walk erect over the earth.” Karl Konig