Children’s Posture and Wellbeing
While adults may be aware of their own posture and how it affects them, they may not be aware that it is also very important to look after the posture of our children. Poor posture in kids can have detrimental effects not only while they are young but throughout their entire lives.
What is good posture?
Posture is the position our body is in when we are sitting or standing. Good posture places the least amount of stress on the joints and muscles within the body, especially in the spine. This helps keep the joints in the spine healthy and prevents damage over time, which usually leads to pain and other difficulties. When facing sideways our spine has natural curves that help take the stress of gravity off the individual joints. Good posture ensures that these curves don’t get increased or decreased. To maintain these curves our head should sit over our shoulders, and our shoulders should be in line with our hips. Our weight should also be going down evenly through our feet. When facing forward our head should be straight (not turned or tilted), and our shoulders and hips should both be at equal heights. Common posture mistakes in kids include bringing the head too far forward, rounding the shoulders forward, and flattening out the lower back when slouching in chairs.
How can a posture affect your child?
Poor posture may seem like something that just doesn’t look very nice, but having poor posture can actually be very detrimental to your child and their health. Here are just some of the effects of poor posture:
- Back and neck pain, which can become chronic over time
- Excess stress on spinal joints increases the degenerative process. You may think degeneration is only common in older spines, but it is becoming increasingly more common in the spine of teenagers and young adults
- Compressing internal organs. This can cause breathing and digestive issues in children and can lead to issues such as heart disease and varicose veins later in life
- Tight muscles. This can reduce the range of motion and can also lead to headaches
- Decreased balance.
And while poor posture can have some negative effects, there are many benefits of having a good one! Other than preventing what is mentioned above these benefits include:
- Increased energy levels. When we have good posture our muscles aren’t working harder than they need to so that energy isn’t being wasted and can be used elsewhere
- Improved core strength. When we are in a correct posture out core muscles stay engaged. This improves the strength of these muscles and also leaves us less susceptible to injury.
- Improved self-confidence
- Improved mood and decrease in anxiety levels. This is because when we hold our body in poor posture our muscles become tight, and this can trick your brain into thinking there is a threat. When we have good posture and our muscles are relaxed, this helps to calm our brain.
What can you do to help your child improve their posture?
It is quite clear that good posture is important, but it is not always as easy as telling your child to ‘stand up straight’. Here are some ways you can help your kid maintain a good one in order to keep them as healthy as possible:
- Make sure they are eating healthy and getting enough exercise. Excess weight is currently one of the biggest causes of poor posture in children
- Show them what good posture should look like. Practice with them in front of the mirror so they know what good posture looks and feels like
- When they are using a phone or iPad encourage them to either lift it up to their face or lie on their stomach while using it. This will prevent them from leaning their head forward and decreasing their neck curve
- When wearing a school bag make sure they are always wearing it on both shoulders in order to evenly distribute the weight
- If possible when at home and sitting at a desk or table, get them to sit on something like an exercise ball. This discourages slouching when sitting and activates their core muscles, increasing strength and stability.
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