"Fourways Chiropractic For the Whole Family"
Posture is the ability of the body to control its position in space against the forces of the external world. Posture is both static (sitting in one position) and dynamic (maintaining balance).
You may have heard of proprioception or not, but that is basically how good is your body awareness. Are you clumsy or do you seem to have cat like reflexes and glide through looking strong & well?
Childhood posture is a subject more and more parents are taking an interest. Good posture is very important in the pre-school child. We take a deeper look into the subject for you below.
During the first four years of life there is a rapid growth and increase in postural responses, which regresses until adult postural reflexes are reached at the age of 7-10 years old. Hence, the understanding is that the most training in static posture and its dynamic reflexes occurs during the early pre-school years of life.
This happens to be whilst spinal development is also growing at such a rapid rate. Chiropractic is a profession that focuses on the nerves, muscles and joints (in particular the spine) of the body, and so considers posture to be important. Stress on the body and spine, in terms of poor static posture, can create a lot of bad habits that can impact on the way a child grows and their long term postural state.
Postural habits can start from the newborn, depending how long they spend in the car seat and buggy seat. It creates a constricted space and static restricted position.
Studies have shown that low back pain often begins in childhood, with 10 percent of 9-10 year olds suffering from it, with poor posture being one of the main causes. They have also shown that training in good posture from an early age does decrease the prevalence of low back pain in children.
Poor posture can result from a combination of 5 reasons:
In terms of Chiropractic, chiropractors focus more on the musculoskeletal system and its relation to the nervous system. Many musculoskeletal problems can affect posture, but in terms of the effects of posture, the most common problem is deconditioning of the muscular system. Holding the body in the wrong position over a long period of time can result in muscle weakness in certain areas. Eventually this can cause excessive stresses and strains on the spine and can result in restricted range of motion of spinal segments which may eventually cause pain.
Mechanical and structural changes such as a scoliosis can cause poor looking posture. However, poor posture can cause a ‘functional’ scoliosis which is a sideways curvature of the spine.
Bad posture can result in stress on the spine at certain levels. For instance the slouched position can put a lot of unnecessary loading on the middle back spinal region, which can lead to jutting forward of the head and jaw. This then leads to headaches and the inability to concentrate. Poor posture also can put strain on the low back, as poor posture goes hand in hand with poor lifting and carrying techniques. Heavy school bags and children sitting all day it is no wonder kids as early as 9 year olds can be suffering with posture pain.
So, are there specific things that parents need to be specifically aware of when it comes to the way their child sits or stands?
Parents should look out in the newborn for the way they carry their head, whether it is always off to one side, or they prefer to feed on one side more than the other.
As the child gets older, from six months onwards, it is good to look at the way they are sitting, whether they are leaning off to one side more than the other. As the child learns to walk and gets more proficient at it, it is good to keep an eye on the walking pattern or, not putting as much pressure on one leg, or limping etc...
As the child gets older into the two years and upwards, this is the time when posture should be really looked after and taken notice of. Take a look at whether they are slumping their shoulders or appear to be very unbalanced. The same applies here when looking as the way they play with their toys and play games, are they always looking down, slumping the shoulders forward, or leaning off to one side. All of these could be due to problems in the neuromusculoskeletal system and should be assessed as soon as possible by an appropriate health professional.
How can I help my child develop and maintain a good posture?
At Chiropractic clinics they giving children a routine called ‘straighten up’ which is a routine designed originally for World Spine Day by The Bone and Joint Decade, of which the Chiropractic Association of South Africa (CASA) is a member, on October 16. This is a routine comprising of daily exercises to strengthen the core muscles of the body and stretch out the commonly tight ones. By keeping the body balanced in the exercises we do, the more balanced it is going to be in its posture as the child grows. The same goes for the sporty child – making sure they do warm-up and warm-down after doing exercise.
As mentioned above, with the deconditioning of muscles, postural reconditioning exercises are proven to help improve balance and postural behaviour related to spinal loading, and create a positive impact. Any programme needs to be tailored to the child’s age and activities. In infants this may involve placing the child’s toys on one side of the body to encourage looking or reaching to one particular side, or place relevant stimuli evenly on both sides of the body to encourage equal use of the neck and body. In older children enthusiasm and interest have to be considered. It is often recommended swimming, cycling, early gymnastics, horse riding or martial arts are good for training those postural reflexes. The overall view is that keeping your child active and not in one prolonged posture will keep your child’s body stimulated and healthy.