Posture is simply the way in which a person holds up his body. A good posture cannot be missed; the back is straight, the head is in alignment with the spine, the shoulders are pulled back and down, the chest is open and the abdomen is tucked in. If a person has a bent back, slumping of the head and shoulders, and a protruding belly, he clearly has poor posture. This posture is not only aesthetically unattractive, but it is also detrimental to the proper functioning of the internal organs, and in most cases linked to the deformity of the spine.

We usually form our posture during childhood and adolescence. Sitting improperly at our desks in school, a lack of physical exercise, sitting in front of the computer for long hours, poor lighting conditions that cause the student to bend down close to his desk…

How can we ensure that our children maintain proper posture until they graduate?

A Backpack Filled with Knowledge 

Do not buy your child a backpack that he must carry with one hand. Anyone who has ever tried to lift a school bag filled with books will agree that this is a difficult task for the child’s spine. If the child carries the weight in one hand, starting in elementary school, then scoliosis of his spine is likely. To balance the load, a child’s school bag should not exceed 10% of his body weight. Do not prevent the child from choosing a bag that is too colorful or excessively decorated, claiming that it is overly adorned etc., as preparing the bag each night should be a positive experience for the child. But make sure that the weight of the bag when empty is no more than 1.54-1.765 pounds. And it is recommended to select a bag with many compartments so that it is easier for the child to place his things inside. This kind of bag will also ensure the even distribution of the weight of the bag preventing its contents from shifting while walking.

The back of the bag has to be hard so it can support the child’s posture. However, the part of the bag that comes into contact with the back should be sufficiently padded. Don’t forget that the width of the knapsack should not exceed the width of the child’s shoulders and its height should not exceed 12 in. The straps should be adjusted so that most of the weight will be in the center of the back and not on the lower back or pelvis. This means that the upper part of the bag must be adjacent to the shoulders.

Since it is difficult to keep the weight of the bag below 10% of the child’s weight due to the many books and workbooks he must carry with him, especially in the lower grades, some parents opt for a schoolbag on wheels or a “trolley”. Even though the back is not as strained with this option, the child will still pull the bag with one arm, which causes a lack of balance and twisting of the body.  Therefore, if you choose to purchase a bag on wheels, it is important to remind the child to switch between his hands when pulling the bag.

Check Your Child’s Work Space!

Whether you like it or not, the reality is that most of the time your child sits at a desk in school. It is therefore advisable to thoroughly examine the work space of your child. The desk and chair have to be appropriate for the child’s height. This is something you can check on your own; sit the child down on the chair with his feet on the ground. If the angle between his thighs and pelvis is straight then the chair is suitable for the child. If the angle that was formed is too sharp – the chair is too small. If the angle is too large – the chair is too big. The height of the desk should be determined based on whether his arm is straight when extended on the desk while the he is sitting on the chair. The elbows should be 2-2.5 in below the upper surface of the desk.

The height of a suitable desk also provides the appropriate distance from eye-level to the work area (book or notebook) which is 12-14 in, as the arm and hand are resting freely on the desk. The appropriate place for the chair allows the child to sit up straight, and not to lean forward, or bend backward. A child should not have to lean forward with his chest at the edge of the desk. The body should be a hand-width away from the edge of the desk.

 Another reason for poor posture is bad lighting. Insufficient light causes the student to bend as close as he can toward the desk. Oftentimes, bending excessively over the desk may indicate a child’s poor eyesight. If you notice signs of poor vision in the child, you should immediately contact an optometrist. Firstly, without proper treatment, the child’s vision can quickly deteriorate. And secondly, prolonged sitting in a bent over fashion, may cause damage to the spinal column.

Not Only at School

 Parents must ensure that the work environment at home is just as suitable for the child as it is in school, especially because of a child’s rapid growth and development. For children who write with their right hand, it is preferable to situate a light for them on the left side. Another recommended tip, even though it is not related to the child’s posture, is the recommendation of psychologists to abandon the conventional approach of placing the desk so that the child is “facing the wall”. According to psychologists, looking at a wall gives off a feeling of despair and is certainly not conducive to the inspiration of the child. But a wall behind the child’s back gives him a sense of security. Therefore it is recommended to place the desk so that the child’s back faces the wall and not his face.

 We must remember that a child spends a third of his time in bed. Here too, it is important to remember that children grow up fast and the size and quality of their bed must accommodate them in order to avoid awkward sleeping positions.

Physical Activity

 When the child is doing his homework, he should take fifteen-minute breaks every 45 minutes. In addition, he should change his position every 15 minutes. Although many children nowadays prefer to spend their time in front of TVs and computers, daily walks and outdoor games must be incorporated into the daily routine. Beyond the performance of general physical activity for the attainment and maintenance of a good posture and a healthy back for many years, it is also important to combine correct exercises for the development of the back muscles and strengthening of the spine. One of the most effective methods for attaining correct postural habits and the treatment of poor posture is yoga therapy.

By conducting a simple test described in the section “Checking Your Child’s Posture”, you will be able to assess the condition of your child’s posture.

For more on Yoga Therapy, click here.

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