Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/341

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BODILY DEFORMITIES IN GIRLHOOD.

and invert the ankles, and counteract all the deformities; while sitting on chairs with the legs crossed one over the other directly favors them. It is probable that most children spend too much of their time on their feet, and that their power of walking is very much overrated. Running is the natural gait of all young animals, and children always run if left to play by themselves. The dire effect of standing and walking in producing flat-foot in children is shown by the following statistics, taken from my paper on "Flat-foot," in the St. George's Hospital Reports (1872-'74): Of 10,000 children, between the ages of eight and thirteen years, which were examined, about one third were schoolchildren living in country towns and agricultural districts, another third were school-children living in manufacturing towns, and the remainder were factory-children. Among the first, 17·1 cases per 1,000 of flat-foot occurred; among the second, 30·7 cases per 1,000; and among the third—i. e., the factory children, who were employed five hours daily standing, walking, and carrying weights—79 cases per 1,000 of flat-feet were found. Among the latter the deformity was found to increase rapidly with age—i. e., with the longer period of employment in factories. Thus:

Of the age of 8 years, 15·1 per 1,000 had flat-foot.
" 9 " 45·6 ""
" 10 " 51·2 ""
" 11 " 104·2 ""
" 12 " 132·4 ""

At the period when these observations were made (1873) children were allowed to commence work in factories at the age of eight years, instead of ten as now, and the low rate of 15·1 per 1,000 represents the normal rate before the strain of labor has begun to tell on the children's feet.

There can be little doubt that children are made to stand and walk far too much both at home and at school. Standing at lessons, parade-exercise, and much of the military drill in schools are injurious to both boys and girls, and especially to the latter. Instead of listless standing about, or taking long walks with adults, children should be permitted and encouraged to play lively games, which they will generally do even if left to themselves, to dance, and to perform short but spirited gymnastic exercises with apparatus. Exercises which develop the muscles of the feet and ankles, such as hopping and skipping, are especially necessary for girls; and still better than these are the admirable exercises preparatory to stage-dancing taught at the National Training-School for Dancing.[1] These exercises are directed to the development of the muscles and the free action of the joints of the lower limbs, and are far preferable to the languid movements of ordinary dancing. For the development of the muscles of the trunk and

  1. Under the direction of Madame Katti Lanner.