Every parent should take a big interest in how their kid is sitting and learning or relaxing and playing on their computer or tablet because it is critically important if they’re going to be raising healthy kids. If you’ve got a healthy spine, you’re going to function well. If you don’t have a healthy spine, you’re going to be running into issues.
We’re at the forefront of research on how poor ergonomics can create poor posture in kids and how poor posture can create pain and all those things that are on the sensory disorders spectrum like ADD, ADHD, and things of that nature. It’s all coming back to kids that just aren’t sitting correctly while learning, or on their mobile devices. The poor posture is pulling their necks out of alignment. That’s putting stress and tension on their upper cervical spine and that’s creating this myriad of sensory issues.
Kids are super adaptable. If they adapt to poor posture as they go through adolescence and start growing around a poor posture, it’s going to be a lot more difficult to fix than someone who is in good posture, building a good frame around good posture.
Here are some tips for parents to help improve their kid’s posture:
Kids are expected to sit in these tiny seats in the classroom, which may look cute, but ergonomically, they’re not set up very well. So, first and foremost, motion is lotion. We shouldn’t just sit for six or eight hours a day regardless if you’re five years old in kindergarten, or you’re fifty years old and you work in downtown New York. You’ve got to mix it up. You’ve got to be sitting and standing. A good rule of thumb is to have kids sit for 20 to 30 minutes and then stand for 30 to 40 minutes. This way they are just going up down, up down and moving more.
Use a Stand Up Desk
If a stand up desk is not available for kids at school, make sure they’ve got one at home. This way when they are doing their studying and doing their homework, they get a chance to stand, too. The ergonomics of their workstation at school and at home, how they’re sitting in the chair, standing at their desk, and essentially how they’re learning, is really important.
When they are sitting at a desk or table, they have got to have a good chair to support their lower back and their spine. If they are in class or at home studying for school, you want to make sure their chin is four fingers off their chest and their shoulders are nicely back and relaxed so that their shoulder blades pinch behind them. That keeps their head out of flexion, which is looking forwards, and that’s going to help preserve that neck curve. If they’ve got their chin on their chest, or they’re just consistently looking down, obviously the further forward their head goes, the more weight transfers forward to drag gravity into that equation, and that’s how all these neck curves start getting pulled out of alignment. Make sure, if they’re watching TV, or on a computer or a tablet, it’s right in front of their eye level and not up, not down and maintain four fingers from their chin to their chest and they should be in pretty good shape.
Limit Screen Time
First and foremost, I’m not going to tell you how to be a parent, but you should obviously limit time on devices not only due to posture issues but because of other sensory neuro factors, blue light, et cetera and how it affects physiology. I think there’s no coincidence with the amount of kids that are suffering with learning deficiencies and the amount of screen time we’ve got going on right now.
Remember, when they are using devices with screens, they should be looking straight ahead, not down, and if they are looking down, they should have four fingers off their chest and their shoulders back and relaxed. Then obviously, just like sitting too much, you don’t want to be spending too much time at a workstation or in front of a screen because it’s obviously going to be detrimental for just general function.
Choose a Good Backpack
Lastly, how kids wear their backpacks at school is also critically important. Backpacks and how they’re worn, can have a huge effect on how kids ergonomically develop. There is some really good research into how much that backpack should weigh in relation to their body weight. Their backpack should be absolutely no more than 25, 30% of their body weight. If your kid is 100 pounds, you want to limit that backpack to 15 to 20 pounds. Also, you want to make sure, if they’re wearing a backpack, they’ve got two straps, not one strap on. Make sure those straps are pulled nice and tight at the back, snug to the spine.
So, look into your kid’s backpack. What type it is, how heavy it is, and how they wear it is really important. It is something that can go a long way in making sure your kid is nice and healthy.