Patient Care

How Important is Good Posture for Your Kids?

Your mother would scold you, "Sit up straight!" Your grandmother learned that good posture was the secret to health and beauty. But is good posture really important to your kids' health?

"Yes," say experts at National University of Health Sciences (NUHS) in Lombard.

Today, many children suffer from chronic pain in the hands, neck and shoulders, as well as repetitive motion injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Many of these ailments can be prevented and eliminated with proper attention to posture, correct backpack use and attention to how and how long children sit at computer stations.

A recent article in the medical journal "Spine" reveals an urgent need to increase awareness and reduce risks in the school environment, such as heavy backpacks, desks and chairs that don't fit their users, and the absence of physical activity at recess.

Basic posture care is providing a child with a bed with medium firmness and chairs with good support as well as teaching them not to slouch and feeding them a well-balanced diet. In addition, parents and teachers can employ the following tips:

Proper Backpack Use

  • Make sure your child's backpack weighs no more than 10 percent of his or her body weight. A heavier backpack will cause your child to bend forward in an attempt to support the weight on his or her back, rather than on the shoulders. 
  • A backpack should never hang more than four inches below the waistline. A backpack that hangs too low increases the weight on the shoulders, causing your child to lean forward when walking.
  • Urge your child to wear both shoulder straps. Lugging a backpack around by one strap can cause a disproportionate shift of weight to one side, leading to neck and muscle spasms, as well as low back pain.
  • The shoulder straps should be adjustable so the backpack can be fitted to your child's body. Straps that are too loose can cause the backpack to dangle uncomfortably and cause spinal misalignment and pain.

Computer Ergonomics

  • Make sure your child's workstation chair fits him or her correctly. There should be two inches between the front edge of the seat and his or her knees. The chair should also have arm supports so that elbows rest within a 70- to 135- degree angle to the computer keyboard.
  • Your child's knees should be positioned at an approximate 90- to 120-degree angle. To accomplish this, feet can be placed on a footrest, box, stool, or similar object.
  • Limit your child's time at the computer and make sure he or she takes periodic breaks during computing time. If your child complains of pain and strain from sitting at a computer or from wearing a heavy backpack, see a doctor of chiropractic.

A chiropractic physician can help alleviate your child's pain and help prevent injury. A doctor of chiropractic can also offer advice on lifestyle changes to keep your youth fit and healthy. As experts in the health of the spine, chiropractic physicians can diagnose weaknesses that may be developing in your child's spine before they become more serious problems down the road.

Parents wanting more information or wanting to schedule an appointment for their child, who is experiencing chronic poor posture or posture-related pain, can call an NUHS Whole Health Center at 630-629-9664.

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