I was absent-mindedly listening to my sister-in-law talking to Mum whilst carrying my 3 day old nephew. She was worried as he hadn’t emptied his bowel or bladder that day. Absentmindedly, I flipped him onto his stomach over my arm and stroked the left and right side of his back at the same time. The next thing I knew, my hand felt very warm and wet!

I had accidentally, on purpose, caused my nephew to wee (the reason why he leaked has yet to be discovered). Everyone looked at me absolutely baffled and well, his mum was over the moon.

The reflex that I stimulated which caused him to empty his bladder is known as the Spinal Galant (SG) reflex. It is stimulated by stroking down one side of baby’s back (while they’re on their stomach) from the ribs down to the waist. You’ll notice that the hip and shoulder will try and move in towards each other. Baby’s head may also turn to the side.

This movement is actually what helps baby twist and slide out during birth. During labour, the contractions stimulate the baby’s lower back, which activates this reflex. The rotational movement of the shoulder and hip helps baby move down the birth canal! After birth,  the purpose of the spinal galant reflex is to encourage movement and develop the range of motion in the hip, in preparation for walking and crawling.

This reflex should integrate and ‘switch off’ by 9 months. And if it doesn’t…

You know the kids who are super sensitive along their spine; can’t sit still, dislike any labels on their clothes, extremely activate and they’re always being told by teachers to        ‘ focus more in class.’ They may even be labelled with ADHD or being hyperactive. Well more often than not, their SG reflex is still active.

You can tell these children (or even adults) to sit still or to focus more until you’re blue in the face, and honestly it’s not going to make a difference.

Imagine you were sitting in your chair and you could feel a spider crawling up your back. You’re going to want to itch, stand up, shake it off. It’s a similar feeling for someone whose SG has not integrated, they just won’t be able to understand nor express why they feel the need to move. The chair / noise even is stimulating the reflex, which is encouraging them to move about.

Other challenges include:

  • Dislike of tight clothes
  • Labels always need to be cut off clothes
  • Being over talkative
  • Scoliosis (one side is more active than the other side)
  • Bed wetting after the age of 5, or just general poor bladder control

It’s such an eye opener when you realise that so many of these challenges can be tackled, you can brush off these childhood labels and not let them continue to restrict you going forward!

Games to help integrate SG:

  •  Making snow angels on the ground: lay down on the floor on your back and open your arms and legs as if you’re a starfish. Slowly close them again and repeat the movement a few times. As you slide your arms and legs open, breath in and as you bring them back towards your body breathe out.
  • Hulla hooping
  • Slithering across the floor on your front like snakes 
  • Drawing on each other’s backs