Your body’s joints will endure a lifetime of bending, twisting and rotating. Without them, there’d be no walking, sitting or even dancing. They’re so important that it’s hard to believe we don’t have them at one point in our lives.
Fetal Joint Development
When an embryo first begins to mature, the clump of cells is a far cry from our easy-to-recognize adult human shape. In those early days, the embryo has solid, unbending legs.
Around the sixth week of development, tiny buds that precede limb development appear. A few weeks later the embryo’s legs begin to indent. As the embryo develops into a fetus, fledgling arms and legs slowly begin to form vital hip and knee joints.
Joints in Pregnancy and Childbirth
As the pregnancy progresses, so does limb and joint development. Joints are important as the fetus overtakes the womb, eventually filling every nook and cranny (and then some) of available space inside his expectant mother.
The limberness of those joints will be tested time and again in the later months of pregnancy as the fetus assumes awkward positions in the womb. Flexibility is critical to the baby’s journey to the outside world, which begins in the birth canal. This level of flexibility stays with newborns into the toddler years.
Childhood Joint Health
As children mature, a lifetime of joint wear and tear begins. Thankfully, in most cases, childhood is the time of life when joints are at their healthiest. Unfortunately, many growing bones are quite vulnerable to fractures.
Children’s long bones, which have growth plates at both ends, can easily be damaged by football, gymnastics, biking and skateboarding injuries. Participation in year-round sports puts joints at even further risk of injury. By the time children reach their teens, their growth plates become solid bone.