Kids and posture
Childhood is a great time to make changes towards ideal posture, and the patterns the body assumes up to the age of 18 tend to remain fixed after this time. Issues such as a scoliosis, as long as they are mild to moderate, can also be treated more effectively before the bones settle into their adult position. It’s a fact that the longer and more entrenched the non-ideal posture is, the harder it becomes to unravel the changes.
So what can be done?
There are a range of safe and gentle osteopathic and physio techniques that we use to improve the bones and muscles, which encourages a better posture. However this must be part of an overall approach which includes motivating your child to help her/himself with these three simple exercises, performed on a daily basis.
What types of exercises are best for kids?
1. Core stability awareness should start with children, or at the latest, teenagers. In the absence of stability, function (for example, the ability to play, use communication devices or do schoolwork) is impaired. A large exercise ball is a great way to improve core stability.
2. Using opposites, that is exercises that encourage using the opposite sides of the body in coordination are hugely important. Improving the right-left balance can have profound consequences on posture. Have your child lie on her/his back and reach up opposite hands and legs.
3. Crawling type exercises can be very helpful. Sometimes kids pass through the pre-walking crawling stage too quickly! Crawling is part of how our nervous system wires our postural relationships effectively. Crawling should be done not on hands and knees but on fingers and toes. Just crawling in a straight line for 25 minutes, backwards and forwards, a few times every day is enough to see an improvement.
There are, of course, many more exercises, but they will depend on the underlying problem, and therefore we would need to assess the child first and then recommend an exercise program.
The reality of children and exercise
One difficulty, of course, is persuading and cajoling our kids that good posture is really important and will help them later in life, especially in today’s culture of instant gratification. This means you will have to make exercise and good posture fun, set challenges, and (probably) offer rewards or incentives.
Postural correction devices can be very helpful for teenagers as they require a minimum of commitment and can be hidden beneath clothing.
The dangers of our 'portable device' lifestyle
Modern devices such as mobile phones, tablets, laptops and even televisions can prove to be harmful when it comes to ideal posture. It is important to make sure your children take regular breaks from their devices. We have seen so many problems in children caused by the long hours of just sitting immobile in front of their computer screens and handheld devices. Keep in mind that it is just as important that they take breaks as it is for adults to get up and stretch!
We highly recommend the upright pose postural correction device - it’s a small, simple, Israeli-made, device you attach either between the shoulder blades or in the curve of the spine. It links to a smart phone and makes a gentle vibration when it feels the posture is incorrect. You can find out more here www.uprightpose.com
One last note
If you have an Apple product, I invite you to download my beautiful e-book all about posture and simple home corrective exercises. Click this image for full information.
Simeon Asher is the former chairman of the Israeli Register of Osteopaths. With over 25 years of experience, internationally celebrated practitioner, teacher and author of 12 books, including the No. 1 Best Seller on Amazon, The Concise Book of Trigger Points, Simeon was voted as one London's top 10 osteopaths in a poll by the London Evening Standard. Simeon opened the Back into Shape Clinic in 2007 in the heart of Ra’anana, Israel to provide a wide range of Osteopathy, Physiotherapy Acupuncture, Massage and IDD therapies. The clinic and its group of specialists believe that ‘the body understands what to do and it is their mission to help guide it’.