As a parent, you put time, care and effort into ensuring your children can grow up happy and healthy. But have you ever considered the impact of posture on their overall health?
Fixing bad posture habits and replacing them with good ones now, while kids are young, will set them on the right track for life.
Why is good posture important for kids?
Bad posture such as a slumped sitting position – and prolonged sitting in general – can spell trouble for your children’s health. Studies have shown “unequivocal evidence” 2 that prolonged sitting is linked to musculoskeletal pain in theupper body in children and adolescents.
Even for children who don’t suffer from any pain or physical problems right now, developing good posture is all about fostering good habits and building back strength to prevent future health problems.
How to improve your child’s posture
Slumping or bad posture is not just a sign that your children are lazy. Non-neutral standing postures, lower belief in self-efficacy, lower back muscle endurance, greater television use, and higher BMI are all factors proven to correlate with slumped sitting positions. 1
And there’s more to instilling good posture in your kids than nagging at them to ‘stand up straight!’. Here are a few simple tips to help reverse bad posture habits and prevent issues in the future.
Identify good and bad posture. Kids might not always notice postural stresses, so it’s important to point out bad posture when you see it. It’s equally important to identify and encourage good posture, so that your child knows what they’re aiming for and can correct next time. If you’re unsure how to spot the difference between good and bad posture in your children, book an appointment with an expert for some tips.
Keep an eye on school set-up and equipment. How heavy is your child’s backpack? What does their school desk set up look like? Ensure that anything your child uses regularly is set up to enable good posture. You might think an ergonomic desk and computer set up is just for adults, but kids will definitely benefit from it too.
Replace screen time with physical activity. Studies show that 37% of students use their mobile phone for more than 5 hours and a massive 90% adopt incorrect posture while doing so3. Limit the time your kids sit in front of iPads and phones and encourage them to spend time getting up and active instead, by signing them up for sports, going on a family walk, or promoting outside play.
Remember: If your child is experiencing back, neck or shoulder pain, consult an expert to effectively get to the route of the problem.
Better postures to encourage in kids
Everyone, even kids, sometimes fall into bad postures. Knowing alternative postures is key to avoid prolonged postural stress. Some good postures to kickstart spinal health in your kids include:
Correct standing posture: Feet comfortably hip width apart, with hip, shoulder and ear in line vertically.
Correct sitting posture – at a desk: Sitting up straight with feet on the floor, the base of your back against the back of the chair. Hands should rest comfortably on the desk.
Correct sitting posture – on the floor: Sit either cross-legged, with legs outstretched in front or with legs folded comfortably to the side. Avoid ‘W’ sitting (with knees folded pointing forward and feet pointing backwards).
Embrace tummy time: Lying flat on the tummy, propped up on elbows. This position stretches the back and is a form of posture reversal, which is very important!
At Realign Health, Dr Jess works with lots of families to improve children’s posture early. So to start with a spinal check, or if you would like the support of a friendly professional as you work with your children to develop good postural health, get in touch today.
1 Brink Y, Louw Q A., A systematic review of the relationship between sitting and upper quadrant musculoskeletal pain in children and adolescents, Manual Therapy, 2013
2 O'Sullivan P, Smith A, Beales D, Straker L., Association of Biopsychosocial Factors With Degree of Slump in Sitting Posture and Self-Report of Back Pain in Adolescents: A Cross-Sectional Study, Physical Therapy, 2011
3 Aliberti S, Invernizzi P L, Scurati R, D'isanto T., Posture and skeletal muscle disorders of the neck due to the use of smartphones, Journal of Human Sport and Exercise, 2020