As summer ends, fall brings with it fashionable rain-jackets, beautiful weather, as well as heavy backpacks for our children. If you have children, you may notice that it almost seems like they may need a pack mule to carry all of their heavy text books and supplies. If your child is one of them, you could be setting him or her up for future posture problems, irregular gait cycles, scoliosis, chronic fatigue, and a long list of health problems. We often wonder why our young adults slouch, have poor posture, don’t stand up tall, or sit straight. Poor posture habits follow a trend, children carry huge overloaded backpacks, adults have very fashionable-yet-heavy purses or lug briefcases to work, and most of us spend too many hours hunched over a computer.
If your children are suffering from poor posture that is exacerbated by heavy bags, they are not alone. Poor posture is not only habitual, but also is a result of low self-esteem, existing scoliosis or increased spinal curves. Whatever the case maybe in your child, you should also be aware that poor posture can cause degenerative problems in the spine, chronic pain, muscle aches, poor circulation and can affect their breathing. The trouble with heavy backpacks is kids are saddled with them during their growing phase. Visualize a bowling ball strapped to the top of a little pine tree; the pine tree will grow in that same bent over position.
How can you tell if your child is developing posture problems?
Simply look at them from the back and the side. If you are looking at them from the back, see if their head tilts more to one side (remember this would be very subtle), also note if one shoulder is higher than the other. Remember the difference would be very subtle but important to note because it could indicate a problem. Have your kids bend over the knees and see if one shoulder blade comes up higher than the other. Now look at them from the side, and make sure their shoulders are not rounding forward a lot. Also their ear, shoulder, hip, knee, and outer portion of ankle should line up in a straight line on each side.
What kind of problems might poor posture in kids lead to?
Structural problems can lead to chronic pain and tightness in the neck and mid-back. Uneven or asymmetric stress on the spine can cause additional strain to certain parts of the spine as they grow and a degenerating spine is a result of that as they age. Spinal strain can also put pressure on spinal cord, nerves, and central nervous system causing migraine headaches, digestive difficulties, chronic fatigue, asthma, and etc…
What can be done?
Check their backpacks. Unfortunately most kids will not compromise their fashion for rolling backpacks, so here are a few tips to picking a good backpack. First try it on; the straps should feel snug and a close fit to the shoulders. Make sure the backpack is centered and not below the waist, to minimize the uneven pressure on their growing spine. Encourage your children to buckle up the strap around the waist (even-though it’s known not to be the most fashionable). The middle strap will help the backpack fit better and keeps it in place. Check their backpacks to make sure they are only carrying the essential textbooks and remove what’s unnecessary. Limiting the weight of the backpack load to 10% of their body weight is helpful. Last but not least, encourage them to keep their backpacks on both shoulders, and not on one!
Finally do not ignore if they are complaining of neck or lower back pain; as they shouldn’t have any pain. Get your child evaluated here with us to check their spine and make sure there are no structural asymmetries and to prevent health problems from occurring in the future. Call us at 949.922.3465 Your children’s posture and health are worth the extra attention.