Cultivating Awareness of Good Posture in Young People
By Maria De Sousa
I am on a mission to raise awareness of good posture and spread the seeds of good postural habits to end pain and avoid pain in the future; to bring posture education to schools and homes so that children grow up with the awareness and understanding of good posture, maintain a healthy spine and avoid suffering, ultimately to be of value and service to you and the world through my work of posture awareness.
I believe society is letting children down by the lack of education on a key life skill: how to care for the spine. Every parent wants to empower their children and what is more empowering than teaching them how to maintain a healthy body and mind?
If we plant a seed of good posture early enough in children and water it throughout their early years, by the time they reach adulthood and embark on their professional lives be it working in an office, be an artist, or a gardener they will have cultivated the awareness of good posture and so perhaps avoid suffering.
It breaks my heart to see children as young as two or three hunched over electronic devices; school children carrying school bags far too heavy and sometimes bigger than themselves. Doing this day after day, year after year on their soft and still developing spine, I wonder in what condition their spines, eyes and their emotional state will be in a few years time? How much pain will they go through, not to mention the financial burden with visits to doctors, chiropractors, osteopaths, etc. Some may recover after treatment but others may not as the damage caused may have been too great.What kind of life will they have?
Ironically, if a donkey were seen in our streets carrying a load of weight, in no time we would have animal rights activists coming out to protest, and rightly so. BUT who’s paying attention to the load that some school children are carrying around?
In this age of technology, it is paramount to introduce posture education in schools and every home too. The damaging effects of poor posture on the body and mind are far too great to be ignored. This is a fact known for many generations and there is a tonne of information on the web about this. Growing up with the awareness and understanding of good posture may be the difference between a pain-free, successful and happy adulthood to one of pain and suffering. The truth is, I do not need to have a degree in medicine to see and understand that a lot of children of today are heading to a painful future if we do not start planting seeds of good posture in them.
The following text was sent to me by the British Chiropractic Association when I asked them if they had any studies on poor posture in children:
We certainly know that parents and children are visiting regulated healthcare professionals, such as chiropractors, for treatment and advice related to posture, particularly against the backdrop of the increasingly sedentary lifestyles that children are leading.
In 2008, the British Chiropractic Association carried out consumer research that found that 53% of under 15s had already suffered some kind of back pain and 45% of 6-15 year olds spent most of their half term time playing computer games or watching TV.
A very good friend of mine, who I have been helping with her poor posture, asked me once in pain and desperation:
‘Why wasn’t I told about this (the principles of good posture) when I was growing up?‘
Boy! that hit me hard. I don’t know why we are not educating children on such an essential life skill, but I am on a mission to change this.
7 Ways to Introduce Posture Education at Home
Sit up straight… Roll your shoulders back…
Surely you have been told these at one point in your life. Did it help you? In all probability, it didn’t, and you didn’t like to be told them either.
So, what can you do so that your children really get it?
How you teach and consistency of lessons are key.
Telling young people things like, ‘sit up straight’ or ‘don’t slouch’ mean a lot of things and yet nothing at all. It can feel disciplinary and make them feel bad. We need to start thinking of posture as education and not discipline. We also need to introduce it on a daily basis, from an early age and include the What, Why and How of posture.
What, Why and How of Posture:
- What is good posture?
- Why do they need it?
- How do they do it?
Isn’t it what we do when it comes to introducing teeth brushing? We start early enough, explain what it is, why they need it and how to do it. We are also the example and we do it day in, day out until it’s a habit. When it comes to posture education, it isn’t any different.
Here are 7 Ways to Start Introducing Posture Education at Home:
- Start it as early as possible, ideally when they sit on a chair for the first time.
- Avoid chairs for as long as possible – toddlers prefer sitting on the floor; encourage that for as long as you can.
- Encourage them to do more of what they do at home standing (they already sit a lot in school).
- At the dinner table, make the right conditions for your child to maintain good posture e.g. are they sitting so low that they can’t reach the table properly? You can easily fix this with cushions. Their feet should too be flat and grounded on something.
- When they play with your mobile phone, teach them to bring the phone up in the direction of the eyes and not to drop the head towards the device.
- With any e-device and television, restrict the amount of time they use it for – the human body isn’t designed to sit down for too long. Encourage movement.
- Be the example; children are more likely to do what you do than what you say. Learn how posture works so that you can teach yourself and your children with confidence.
As a final note, the key element of posture education is to start as early as possible because let’s face it, if you introduce it when your child is already a teen, it is likely they won’t go along with it.
By Maria de Sousa