Straighten up, kid

Last Updated 27 June 2014, 16:13 IST

Children’s brains are continually learning and growing. And for this, the brains need a good amount of oxygen. A good posture helps increase the amount of oxygen and its circulation to the brain, informs Dr Gerd Mueller.

Posture is controlled by the nervous system. The brain takes in information from all the senses and sends signals out to the muscles to hold and move our bodies in a coordinated fashion. The position of your head often influences the posture of the rest of your body. Your head should be positioned in such a way that your ears are over your shoulders. Your shoulders should be held back so your chest lifts upward.

Your shoulders, hips, knees and ankles should also be in alignment from a side view.Incidentally, people with good posture are assumed to be intelligent, educated and wealthy. Yet, many people hold their head forward of their body; this may be a habit created from looking at a computer monitor, which is too far away, or as a result of trauma to the neck during birth, or perhaps, a car accident. The position of your feet may also affect your posture; people with flat feet often have postural issues because the foundation of their body is imbalanced. Turning your feet out or in will also affect your body’s habits. 

[Tip: Look at the wear of your shoes to see where most of your weight is distributed to give you an idea of your posture]
Posture is becoming harder to refine nowadays, what with the desk jobs we slog by for hours together and minimal physical activity. Posture in children is important, especially in pre-school, as kids experience a lot of physical and mental growth before four years of age. Things they learn at this age, including proper posture, follow them into their school years and even adulthood. 

Once kids are in higher grades at school, they spend more and more time sitting. The current best practice is to encourage children to sit in the most upright position they can manage (the right angle position). To help them sit up straight, school furniture is designed with flat or backward sloping seats, with vertical backrest. Now, think what happens when they begin to read or write. In the upright position, they are nowhere near close enough to the book or papers on the flat desk, to read or write comfortably. To do that they have to bend the upper part of their body and force the head and neck down, and that’s how they’ll stay until the reading or writing is done.

 Poor posture causes eye strain because of the lack of oxygen. Their brains are not fully alert while slouching, and so, they can’t learn and remember efficiently. Children with poor posture are also known to report increased pain in the back and neck as well as headaches. 

[Tip: To figure out if the child has a bad posture, look for protruding rounded back and increased lumbar curves. Elevated, rounded shoulders too signal a bad posture] 
Children’s brains are continually learning and  growing. This means their brains need a good amount of oxygen. A good posture will maintain a positive frame of mind in a child, making learning easier. And the good amount of oxygen and its circulation resulting from a good posture certainly keeps the mind very sharp and alert. Good posture not only has a positive effect in classroom learning, but also in their social interaction.

Can a child spend 10 hours a day sitting up straight? Certainly not. 

However, here are a few tips that could help maintain a good posture:n Whilst sitting at a desk, the child must be reminded to keep his/her feet flat on the floor or on a foot raise, with a neutral pelvis alignment. 

n Furniture must be appropriate for the child’s height, even at school. Classrooms should specially address the needs of taller and shorter children.

n Make sure that your child is spending some time every day in some physical activity. Encourage him/her to spend at least one hour, everyday, doing some sort of exercise or dance or sport.
(The author is the chairman and MD, AktivOrtho)

(Published 27 June 2014, 16:13 IST)

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