Good posture is a good habit, which contributes significantly to wellbeing. Training in good posture from an early age decreases the prevalence of low back pain as we get older.
A child who slouches is increasing the chances of injuring their spine. The postural behaviour learnt by children will stay with them throughout their adult lives, and poor posture as a child may well mean back pain as an adult. So if we allow our children to have poor posture, we could be setting them up for future health problems.
Just a couple of generations ago people lived far more active and dynamic lives than they do today. Now, it’s more common for children to be lazy and sedentary – spending hours slouched in front of the television set or playing computer games, and even we spend hours sitting in front of the computer working.
Have you noticed that your child is slouching whilst sitting or standing?
Take a look at your child while they’re sitting playing their iPad, tablet or just watching television. Do they sit slumped on the sofa with their back curved and their head stuck out forward? Good posture is important, not only because it makes us look and feel more confident, it prevents us from becoming more prone to back and neck problems as adults.
Slouching also results in the squashing of a child’s stomach and abdomen, making digestion less effective and breathing more difficult. The latter creates even more of a problem if your child has asthma, as their chest shape will already be altered due to their breathing difficulties.
So how can parents help their children?
Firstly, children do not understand what good or bad posture is. You need to explain to your child what is meant by it and what happens when we don’t have good posture. Even if they’re in their teenage years and tell you not to nag them!
Consider buying your child an ergonomic chair with lumbar support and a desk that fits them – also make sure their feet can reach the floor, otherwise a foot rest will be required.
Also teach your child to put cushions behind their back and neck while watching television so they are supported, and encourage them to get up and stretch and run up and down the stairs if they are sitting for longer spells. Ideally children shouldn’t be watching television or playing computer games for more than 1-2 hours a day for healthy development.
Encourage your child to try Pilates, yoga or dance which will encourage good posture and teach them where their body naturally sits without having to look in a mirror. This is especially effective for young girls. At puberty, girls typically slouch to hide their development as they are often self-conscious about their height and their breasts. Talk to your daughter about the changes she’s experiencing, reassure her and help her feel good about herself.
Simple balance games are also effective. Such as standing on one leg and catching a ball or having a go on a trampoline. Persistence is key which can be tricky to establish, but once you have five minutes set aside for play exercise it can easily become a part of your routine.
If you have any concerns about your child’s posture, remember that osteopaths deal with this every single day! We can advise you if your child has an issue that requires further treatment, so give us a call on 01722 512 043 or book online here.
Don’t forget, this month we have a special offer of just £30 per appointment for children – click here to claim this exclusive offer.