What is posture?
Posture is the way we hold our bodies in any plane, whether it be sitting, standing or lying down. Good posture (such as standing up straight) is that which puts the least strain on the body, especially our nervous system.
What does bad posture do to our bodies?
Bad structure (such as slouching) puts more pressure on the muscles, joints, ligaments and nerves in the spine and throughout the rest of the body. Prolonged bad posture can cause compression of our spinal canal, affecting the system our body uses to communicate with itself. This can lead to pain, weakness or tingling in the limbs, and for some people even affect their ability to walk!
How does it affect children?
A study by Salmien (1985) showed that children with a better posture are more likely to stay engaged at school and therefore perform better.
“Children with poor posture were more likely to perform worse academically and report pain in their neck and back”
Programs to improve posture (known as postural hygiene programs) have been linked to:
- Improved performance
- Improved behaviour with certain disorders
- Prevention of neck and back pain
Logically we all know that if children pay more attention at school they will learn more!
How does it happen?
Schilling et al. (2004) replaced chairs with exercise balls for children with ADHD and autism spectrum disorders, resulting in improved behaviour, improved attention span and improved core stabilisation. This is due to less interference in the central nervous system allowing the body to heal more efficiently and relay information more efficiently.
A way to think about it is to imagine yourself completing tasks at work when you have a headache or when you don’t have a headache. With the headache (poor posture) there’s more interference in the body and it makes it harder to focus, but when there’s no headache (good posture) then the mind is clear and completing tasks is easier.
“The habits we learn when we our young are the ones that we will carry with us into adulthood, and if they are learned incorrectly they can be very hard to change”
In 2001, Mendez et al. showed that back pain can be prevented with this type of program.
How can I help my child do better at school?
In modern society there is a large emphasis on education and achieving good grades at school. However, this demand for children to study extra hours and have more books can be counter intuitive. Finland has one of the best school systems in the world; with a system that has no homework, minimal examinations, less school hours than almost all developed countries and wide freedom of thought for the students. This leads to children taking a more active role in their learning and learning more efficiently. A study by Cheung et al. (2010) revealed that by just reducing backpack weight children have improved posture and lower instances of pain or disability.
“Children should be taught to know why they’re learning what they are learning and not just answers to pass examinations”
More than anything children should be inspired to learn by making education fun and a happy experience. Similarly to adults, if children don’t enjoy learning they won’t perform it as well. Happy children will produce better results!
How can Chiropractic help?
The cause for the child’s poor posture is the first thing that needs to be addressed. The first bone in the spine (called the atlas) or the pelvis may be subluxated putting pressure on the nerves; this will affect the positioning of the whole spine. Think of it like the foundations of a house, if things aren’t balanced it will affect the whole of the house.
“Chiropractic care can help to restore the nervous system allowing the body to self-correct the posture”
Is it enough to tell children to change their posture? Stolinski and Kotwicki (2011) stated, “Adults commands of correcting posture may be not beneficial for the children.” This means that telling a child to improve their posture is not a viable tactic, as for the child it translates as a forced action rather than a natural change in posture. If a parent commands their child to have good posture, the child will interpret this as a bad thing because their parents is pointing out something they do wrong rather than inspiring them to do something right.
If you want your child to improve their posture, improve their performance and become happier adults, contact me for a consultation to see if our highly trained Chiropractors can help their body to express themselves to the fullest.