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Teach Good Posture and Protect Your Children's Future Health

Why is the posture of children important? 

It surprises people to find out that the human skeleton doesn’t complete ossification until the early 20’s. 

Ossification is the process where bone is actively being remodelled and this is done to allow growth and also, adaptation to load bearing forces.

Whilst children’s bones are not flexible as such, they do possess greater potential to be moulded during this growth phase.

It’s an absolutely fascinating process where bone is absorbed and then reformed in response to tiny electrical signals that are produced by forces applied to the bones whenever we move. For instance, if you were to use one arm to lift a heavy weight and not the other, you would see a visible change in the muscles but the underlying bone would be altered too.

But stresses on bones don’t have to come from movement, gravity means that we are under stress constantly, whatever position we are in.

So, sitting for a long period of time in a fixed position will apply a force to the body and especially the spine for a long period of time and this may cause a change to the bones themselves.

This generation of children are experiencing a childhood quite unlike the one we experienced. Where we only had TV, children interact with screens of different types for a large proportion of their day, at school and at home.

If you look at someone who has poor posture at a desk, they often retain that posture when they stand up.

If you are an adult who works at a desk and has ever experienced tight shoulders, neck or headaches, think that your children could be under the same strains but their bodies are more adaptable than ours so they may not complain.

If we work at a desk for a company, the company has a responsibility towards our health and we are entitled to have our workstation set up in way that is not detrimental to our health, so we should have the same responsibility to our children.

There’s no point pretending that tablets and phones don’t exist but I believe we can make small changes that may make a big difference to how they interact with them. 

There’s obviously no way to predict the future and prove that their posture is better but I see children that have postures similar to older office workers at a young age.

Obviously, these pictures were taken at our clinic and are staged to some extent to illustrate what I’m trying to say.  Using our son Josef as our case study, we didn’t give him any instructions but just put the tablet in a certain place and let him find his own position.

Tablets are one area where I think that it’s useful for children to have their own. A well known online retailer sells smaller (6-7inch) tablets that weigh less so strain children’s muscles less. They’re also cheaper to fix if they drop them!
 

This is a fairly common position that you see in public spaces, such as restaurants where the child is close to the table looking at the tablet beneath him. The head is proportionally  very heavy so when it’s tipped forward  like this it puts quite a lot of strain on the neck and upper back.

 

Just by using something like a handbag to prop the tablet up it encourages a more upright posture. It’s not perfect but for a short period of time, it's a big improvement.

 

If you allow them to, children tend to slouch on a sofa which can put pressure on the lower back as well as the neck.

If you encourage their lower back to sit further back in the sofa, it will bring the body more upright but they still need to look down.

This is better still but you can see how the larger size of tablet is a bit unwieldy for them to interact with.

I wouldn't use this position for too long either but it can provide a useful counter to the leaning forward postures that children tend to adopt.

The principle of osteopathy is that the wellbeing of an individual relies on the way that bones, muscles, ligaments, connective tissue and internal structures work with each other.

The Institute of Osteopathy

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01275 268001

info@avalonosteopathicclinic.co.uk

Opening Hours: Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 8am - 6pm, Thursdays and Fridays from 8am-4pm. Mid-week evenings and Saturday mornings available by appointment only.

Closed on Mondays as Stefan is working at the Osteopathic Centre for Children in London. 

 

Avalon Osteopathic Clinic, Unit 2, Westway Farm, Bishop Sutton, Bristol, BS39 5XP