Dr. Sharman’s Musings

poor posture in children

The public health epidemic you should know about

I don’t throw the words “public health epidemic” around lightly, but I do feel that we have gotten to that point with this health issue. I see it every day in my practice as well as in my community…and it has gotten dramatically worse in the 20 years I’ve been practicing chiropractic.

That public health epidemic is poor posture in children.

When I started practicing, chiropractors were mainly talking about children’s backpacks being too heavy and the impact of the added weight on kids’ posture. Although that is still an issue, now the main culprits of poor posture in children are the use of electronic devices and poorly developed postural muscle tone, due to the sedentary lifestyles of today’s kids.

Why posture is important – in children and adults

Before we get into the causes and ways to improve poor posture, I want to spend a moment on why good posture is critical for children – and really anyone.

When we have good posture, it keeps us in proper alignment, preventing abnormal wear and tear on our bodies. It also reduces the likelihood of injury. With good posture, our muscles work most efficiently and correctly, reducing strains and overuse.

There are even more profound effects of poor posture – ones that most people are completely unaware of.

  • Studies have shown that slouching reduces lung capacity. People with an exaggerated rounding of the back, or kyphosis, can reduce their lung capacity up to 30 percent!
  • Head-forward posture elongates the spinal cord causing a reduction in nerve conductivity.
  • Your muscles need to work harder when your head is forward as well. Every inch your head leans forward creates 10 additional pounds of weight for the muscles to support in keeping your head upright. Think of the difficulty of holding a bowling ball far away from your body in front of you versus holding it close to your chest.
  • Finally, there are some psycho-social aspects to poor posture. Studies even show that having bad posture can impact your mood (and improving your posture can make it better).

 

RELATED: Poor Posture Can Equate to Neck Pain

Causes of poor posture in children

The obvious one is overweight backpacks. At the same time, children today are slouching to look over electronic devices for long periods of time and leading sedentary lifestyles that contribute to poor muscle tone. Finally, stooping to bend when trying to look “less tall” and female development of breasts during puberty also contribute to poor posture habits.

Ways to improve posture

For starters, make sure your child’s backpack is no more than 10 percent of their body weight. Kids have been dealing with heavy backpacks for years, and there are some basic things they can do to lessen the load.

If your child has a computer or laptop station, make sure it is set up to be ergonomically correct. Investing in a quality chair at their computer desk will encourage better sitting posture.

If they do spend a lot of time on iPads, smartphones or other electronic devices, find ways for them not to slouch. They can stack pillows on their lap and rest their elbows on them to bring the device higher up.  You can encourage them to sit on a stability ball while they play video games or browse their devices so that they are at least activating their core muscles while they entertain themselves. Of course…. limiting their screen time will also help!

Most importantly, if your child has bad posture, know that it can be improved. I have seen many children go from poor posture to normal posture through chiropractic and postural exercise. We have great protocols in our office to make improving posture both fun and satisfying for children of all ages. I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to see a child’s confidence improve right along with their posture!

The American Chiropractic Association has a lot to say about posture – check it out.

 

Dr. Sharman

 

 

 

keep up your immunity

Practical Advice So You Can Keep Up Your Immunity 

Why is it harder to stay well during the winter months? There is a reason they call this the “cold and flu season”.

When the weather turns cold, we spend less time outdoors and more time indoors – in close quarters where the cold viruses of people get recycled through the air. Flu viruses are more stable in cold air, and the low humidity of the winter months helps those virus particles remain in the air.

With these factors at play, it’s even more important than other times of year to focus on keeping your immune system working to fight off illness.

How can you do this? For starters, let’s all get on the same page regarding how our immune systems work.

How it all works

Your immune system is a complex system of cells and tissues that protect the body from harmful foreign substances.  These cells and tissues include the tonsils, thymus gland, spleen, lymph nodes and corresponding vessels and white blood cells. Your immune system is working overtime each day fighting against environmental toxins, abnormal or cancerous cells within your body and viral and bacterial germs that you may have come in contact with.

You are exposed to germs on a daily basis. That’s a fact of life that won’t change unless you decide to live in a bubble or never leave your home (or let anyone else in!).

The difference between getting sick and not getting sick is whether your immune system is strong enough to fight these germs before they proliferate enough for you to come down with the cold, flu or bacterial infection. The key to not getting sick resides within both long-term and short-term strategies for building up your immune system.

Long-Term Immune Boosting

keep up your immunityKeep in mind…the immune system is a complex system. Being such, it doesn’t get stronger with a few weeks of immune-boosting activities. However, a longer-term, healthy lifestyle can do wonders in cultivating a strong immune system. It’s not as hard as you think, but with our hectic lifestyles, we often fall down on the fundamentals. By being intentional with a few things over time, you will see a difference. Start with a focus on:

 

Healthy Diet – The optimal way to keep your body healthy is to eat a healthy, anti-inflammatory diet that is full of nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables, as well as lean protein. Limiting processed foods, pro-inflammatory grains and refined carbohydrates is also helpful.

 

Water – Drinking enough is essential for your cells to function properly. Staying hydrated is a boost to your immune system in that water helps produce lymph. Lymph carries your white blood cells throughout the body to fight infection. So by drinking enough water, you’re creating the right transportation system for your body’s best infection-fighting tool (your white blood cells).

 

Exercise – Physical exercise has the potential to help remove bacteria from lung tissue and airways. Exercise also helps circulation within your immune system and can even cause favorable changes to your antibodies. The brief rise in body temperature from exercise can also kill germs. Finally, it also helps reduce immunity-lowering stress hormones.

 

Stress – The more your body perceives stress, the higher the levels of cortisol within. Cortisol lowers your body’s immune function, or ability to fight illness. Therefore, finding ways to bring balance and harmony into your life can do wonders for your immune function.

 

Rest – When you sleep, helper T cells, beneficial to your immune response, peak in production. Studies show that sleep deprivation lowers T cells and raises pro-inflammatory markers in the body. Sleep is also the time when your body has a better ability to produce fever, which helps to fight infection. So as simple as it sounds, sleep is one of your best tools for building up your immune system.

 

Vitamin D – Besides the many other benefits of Vitamin D, maintaining optimal Vitamin D levels helps to fight against viral infections such as cold in flu. Optimal Vitamin D levels are between 50 and 70 ng/ml. If your diet isn’t providing enough of this essential vitamin, consider adding a daily supplement.

 

RELATED: Getting in the “sweet zone” with Vitamin D

 

Vitamins A, C, E and selenium – These are very powerful antioxidants and immune stimulators.

 

Probiotics – Having healthy gut flora helps to strengthen the immune system and fight against infections. To improve your gut flora, take probiotics and eat fermented foods such as kefir or one of these recommendations.

Short-Term Immune Boosting

keep up your immunityYou tried your best to maintain a healthy lifestyle but your schedule and stress level got away from you. Now you find yourself sick!  What should you do?

  • Keep your air humidified. Keeping your air passages moist will help your airways to heal faster. Even better, inhale some steam with a drop or two of pure Eucalyptus Oil.
  • Drink a lot of fluids in order to keep you hydrated and to thin your mucus. Try adding two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar to your water. Apple cider vinegar helps to thin your mucus.
  • Sleep, sleep, sleep. Remember, your immune system is more active during sleep.
  • Use a saline wash or neti pot to help rinse the congestion, dust, pollen and mold from your nasal passages.
  • Take 1000 mg of Vitamin C daily.
  • Take zinc lozenges throughout the day. Studies show that taking zinc during a cold can speed up the recovery time by three times!

By employing long-term tactics year-round and using short-term tactics when you do get sick, you can minimize the frequency, extent and duration of your illnesses. If this advice makes sense, please make sure to share this with your friends and family – so everyone in your life can benefit and STAY WELL this season!

 

Dr. Sharman