Study: High school students and the risk of posture problems

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Study: High school students and the risk of posture problems
Study: High school students and the risk of posture problems

There is an epidemic spreading across the nation among children who are of high school age. It’s not obesity or juvenile diabetes, which the news commonly likes to push as the biggest issues affecting teens. Poor posture has become more and more common throughout high schoolers, as they continue to utilize increasing amounts of technology, along with remaining sedentary and not getting physical activity. The human body is designed for motion, not to sit still, and when you add in a tablet or laptop that the high schooler is constantly hunched over, improper posture and spinal alignment can result in general health issues for years to come.

Let’s visualize a healthy thirteen year old male who is active in sports, goes outside and plays every day after school, and watches one hour of television a day. This boy would be considered healthy and getting the proper amount of activity each day. Unfortunately, this type of male, or female, is becoming less and less common, especially as the child enters high school age where having a smartphone, tablet, laptop, and gaming system almost seems like an essential. If the after school hour activities begin to become replaced with hours spent hunched in a chair sending tweets or playing video games, the muscles in the back and shoulders begin to adjust to this new position that they are regularly placed in, causing the spine to develop improper curvature.

It is already bad enough that high school students are expected to haul home thirty to forty pounds of textbooks each day in addition to having to sit hunched over in a desk for six to eight hours a day in school. Lack of physical activity hinders the body’s muscles and bones from developing in a healthy form.
If you notice that your child is beginning to develop poor posture, it’s best to take a proactive approach that will help to reverse the posture issues early on, instead of later in life once muscles and bones have fully developed. Have your child try out some of these solutions to help improve their posture and relieve any neck, back, shoulder, and joint pain that they may be complaining of.

Try a standing desk. As previously mentioned, the human body is designed for movement, not sitting sedentary, so a standing desk is a great way to encourage movement as the child does their homework or spends time on the computer. After a few days of standing at a desk instead of slouching down in a chair, the child will begin to straighten up due to reengaging muscles that have been neglected.

Stretch, stretch, stretch. Stretches should not just be used before physical activities like sporting events or workouts, but should actually become a regular routine. Everything that the body does utilizes muscles, so ensuring that each muscle group is opened and lengthened as much as possible will prevent any areas from failing, causing pain or poor posture to continue.

Utilize posture tools. Sometimes all it takes is a guiding hand, especially in high school aged children, for them to understand how to properly do something. Support pillows and seat wedges will help in developing proper seated posture, while a spinal alignment vest or posture-enhancing shirts/sports bras can cue certain muscles to activate, helping to develop proper muscle and training the upper back and core muscles to work in unison to support the body.

Develop balance. The same muscle groups that are used to help the body balance are used in helping the body stay in the proper posture. A balance or wobble board is a great way to exercise the core muscles, but even just walking on uneven surface like sand or thick grass can help train the nervous system, brain , and muscles to connect more efficiently.

It’s best to take action regarding poor posture as soon as it becomes noticeable. If left ignored, poor posture in high school-aged children can lead to more severe spinal issues later in life. Since they are in the prime of their growing stage, developing good habits and working to strengthen important muscle groups is very important, especially in children who are planning to partake in athletics at a higher level than high school.

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