Help Promote Good Posture In Children
Poor posture is a global problem that’s only getting worse. As the world continues to become more sedentary and society more “electronic”, health issues relating to bad posture are inevitable unless conscious action is taken.
The good news is that almost everyone can avoid the problems of poor posture. Ensuring children form good habits regarding their posture from an early age as they grow and develop is crucial for the future wellbeing of the next generation.
Stand Up Straight & Be Counted
The skeleton is the framework of the body. Good posture means bones are properly aligned and in turn muscles and ligaments and the vital bodily organs can function efficiently.
Poor digestion, breathing issues, bad circulation and fatigue could all be present simply due to bad posture and abnormal bone growth is hard to correct.
A recent study in Czech Republic and supported by the National Posture Institute, Indiana, showed alarming statistics that over 38% of children between 4 and 12 years old have posture problems, more so in boys. Another study in the UK showed that 10% of 10 years already have some signs of back problems.
Study after study, over the last decade or more, is showing the same results and chiropractors, pediatricians and osteopaths alike are all finding the same reasons to be the root of this growing concern.
Poor posture, why?
Three key reasons why children in the US have poor posture more than ever before are:
- Overweight backpacks – Since lockers were abolished in many schools children now are expected to carry their school lives on their backs; gym kits, lunchboxes, textbooks, and more.
The American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics both consider this to be one of the leading causes of poor posture in children as they lean forward to compensate the added weight.
The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons suggests that a backpack weighing 20% of the child’s body weight or more can cause serious spinal problems. Research shows that 10% of the child’s body weight should be the maximum with it being closer to 5% for under 10 year olds.
- Use of electronic devises – Watching TV and the use of video games, laptops and mobile phones by children has increased to a point of concern. To make matters worse, often children are slouched on the couch, lying on the floor or in other ergonomically poor positions whilst using these devises.
Even 15 minutes of reading, typing or playing computer games in the wrong position exhausts the neck, shoulder and upper back muscles.
Limiting the length of time to 30-minute sessions whilst encouraging children to use devises sat upright in a chair at a table is the advice from experts.
- Overweight children – Excess weight requires the body to work harder and especially weight around the waist pulls and strains the back. Weight issues are two fold as children often experience a lack of confidence, affecting their self-image and posture further.
Other contributing reasons include:
- Bad sleeping position and poor mattresses for children
- Car seats and strollers not offering enough support
- Injuries that are ignored
- Poor classroom seating
- Poorly fitting clothes and shoes
- Parents who don’t lead by example
What can be done to help the problem?
In the U.S., students are provided a scoliosis exam, however this is not thorough and only serious defects are detected. Osteopaths are trying to encourage Tai Chi and Yoga to be taught in schools but at the moment it’s just a dream.
Change therefore really does start in the home. Teaching your child mindful awareness of posture in all activities and encouraging regular enjoyable exercise can be enough.
The mirror test is recommended by Pediatricians and Chiropractors to teach your child to be self critical of their own posture. Here the child ensures shoulders are level, head straight, stomach flat, knees straight and lower back has a slight curve.
Posture is as important as diet, exercise and proper sleep when it comes to good health for children. Ensure you are doing your bit to help prevent problems for your child in later life. Work with your family chiropractor or pediatrician too; they can help educate the importance of good posture for optimum health.
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