‘Back’ to school

Why children need to learn to ‘sit up straight’ for all sorts of reasons!

Maybe the teacher’s cries of ‘sit up straight’ aren’t just the grumpy result of over exposure to too many children for too many hours – maybe they actually have a point! Learning to sit up straight (and not slumped over your desk) plays an important part in lasting comfort and focus during lessons. As the children go back to school there are quite a few areas we should consider to make sure they are physically able to cope with the months and years of school life ahead.

Posture

A child’s spine is naturally more flexible than an adult’s so now is the time to develop good habits for a lifetime. Good posture is vital for a happy, pain-free child so it’s important that they adopt a balanced and relaxed stance for sitting and standing. This is especially important if your child regularly plays computer games or is in front of a TV screen. We can’t expect them to sit rigidly for any length of time but realistically they could sit supported with cushions and be encouraged to minimise the length of these sessions.

Carry wisely

Schools expect an awful lot from children in terms of carrying books, folders and PE kit. There’s not much you can do about this is except to make sure they aren’t carrying unnecessary items, use a rucksack style of bag wherever possible and to divide heavy bags into smaller loads. If using a rucksack, make sure the straps sit over both shoulders and are tightened to sit close to the spine. Also pack the bag with heavier items towards the back of the bag – therefore closer to the body. If getting your children to use a backpack properly is out of the question, please advise them to at least alternate the shoulder they carry their bag on, so the same side of the body isn’t constantly under strain.

Exercise

The subject of exercise often falls into two distinct camps – the reluctant athlete and the dedicated, up for anything sporting hero. If your child falls into the former, it’s a good idea to encourage a positive attitude to exercise and try and find something they enjoy. Swimming is an excellent, all-round hobby and the water provides great support for their developing bodies. Failing that, walking the dog or doing a paper round will get them out of the house and into the fresh air. It may even be worth looking for a children’s yoga class! This would help with their posture, breathing and mindfulness.

For the sporty child, you need to make sure they are safe and protected, especially for sports such as horse-riding or contact sports like rugby and hockey. Body armour, cycle helmets, shin pads and scrum caps do not equate to excessive parenting – only if they are used all at the same time! Also, competitive sports inevitably lead to children pushing themselves to the next level to achieve more and more. It’s important that you and their coach are comfortable with the level they are training and playing at.

Keep warm

On a basic level, being warm will help children’s bodies to operate correctly so continue to nag about wearing a coat and keeping warm, especially if they walk to school or have to wait at a cold bus stop each day. There’s a ‘being cool’ and ‘being sensible’ dichotomy at work here so the battle is inevitable! Good luck with that.

Sleep tight

On a similar level, sleep is important for young bodies to renew, grow and repair. We know they fight a bedtime curfew but if they understand the amazing things their body has to do while they sleep, they might be more inclined to turn out the light. Again, good luck! It is also worth investing in a good pillow and mattress for your children to help support their spines while they sleep.

Stress heads

Childhood stress is real. Children have all sorts of pressures, especially on how they look as they live in today’s digital world. School performance is measured at every turn so there is pressure to continually succeed across a wide variety of subjects. Stress can lead to head, neck and back pain from tension. Making time to relax and switch off is really important. On the upside of technology, there are many good phone apps available today which promote mindfulness and guided relaxation or meditation techniques, these can be helpful at bedtime to aid a restful night’s sleep.

Move

Movement is key! It’s easy to forget that our children are sitting at their desks for a large majority of the day in the same way we sit at our desks at work. This will have the same implications on their bodies as it does on ours. The most important advice is to move when you can through the day to break up the sitting. This may be advising your children to make sure they walk during their breaks or at least to take short breaks during long stints spent doing homework at home.

What can you do?

If your child has any kind of persistent ache or pain, it is vital to get an early diagnosis. At Stafford Chiropractic Clinic we have specialists in the treatment of children from babies upwards. Chiropractic is a non-invasive, gentle treatment that is safe and natural. It allows us to work out what part of their body needs realignment for balance and a pain-free lifestyle.

By teaching our children about healthy posture and spinal health we are preparing them with the best possible start in life; and equipping them with the foundations for general well-being and a pain-free adulthood.

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