Tag: back posture

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

 

 

 

pain from housework and yard work

How to Avoid Pain from Housework and Yard Work in 5 Steps

Whether we do it because we like it – or because we have to – housework and yard work can cause neck and back pain to flare up, leaving us sore or even worse, causing an injury. If you have a pre-existing issue in your neck or back, you’ve always got to be cautious about reinjuring yourself. And if you don’t have that kind of pain already, the last thing you want is to start down a path of chronic back or neck pain. Fortunately, you have more control over this than you think.

 

Here are five ways to prevent you from experiencing minor annoyances to major pain that can occur from doing household chores. Take them to heart and you can have a clean house, a nice yard, AND feel well!

 

Feet First

First and foremost, wear supportive shoes. I cannot tell you how many of my patients complain that their back pain flared up horribly over the weekend after cleaning and cooking a lot. With some probing, I often find out that they were walking barefoot around the house while doing all of those activities. I hear similar stories with yard work only to find out that the patient was wearing flip flops in the yard. Having proper arch support in the feet can take stress off the knees, hip and back. So, start your house and yard work by wearing supportive shoes – or even better – wear custom made orthotics in your shoes for optimal support. Don’t have any? We can help you get some right here in our office.

 

Drink Up

Stay hydrated. You’ve heard me talk about hydration for many health reasons. It applies here as well. If it is hot outside, add some electrolytes to your water. Being well hydrated and not letting your electrolytes get too low will help prevent muscle cramping and spasms. My preference for this is EmergenC, as it is quick, inexpensive and easy to find at any drugstore.

 

Take a Stand

pain from housework and yard workHow you stand or bend can make a big difference in avoiding pain after household activities. When sweeping or raking, try a scissor stance with your legs instead of bending forward. Put one leg forward and one leg back, keeping your chest up while you sweep or rake. Switch feet every so often.

If your activity involves lifting, lift properly, slowly and mindfully! Keep your legs about a shoulder width apart. If the object is awkward or large, it is okay to widen your stance. Also make sure to:

  • Get right in front of what you are lifting. Never lean to the side or twist to lift.
  • Squat by bending the knees and flexing at the hips, pushing your buttocks backwards but keeping your chest up as much as possible.
  • Hold the object you are lifting close to your body. When you set it down, do the same thing in reverse. Never twist or lean to the side to set the item back down.

RELATED: How Poor Posture Can Equate to Lower Back Pain

 

Gimme’ a Break

Better yet, don’t try to do the entire task in one day. Because we live such busy lives, we have so little time. I often find that patients hurt themselves because they try to fit a large project into their one, free day of the weekend. Whether you can and should take on a large task in one day depends on your fitness level and how easily fatigued you get. So, you may want to just clean the bathrooms one day instead of the whole house! Or just do the front yard work and leave the back for another day instead of taking on your whole yard.

 

All the Right Moves

Exercises are not just for general fitness – specific ones can be preventive for pain. Since most house and yard work involves repeated bending, it is great to counteract that by taking breaks and doing a few McKenzie press ups if you are able. The video below shows how to do them properly. If you experience back pain during the press up, see if you can only go part way up without pain. You may also find that after one or two press ups, the pain starts to get better.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sws_GwrlYO0

 

My Final Thoughts

I’ve found that it can be normal to feel a little sore the next day after doing a lot of house or yard work, similar to when you have had an intense day at the gym. So, a little soreness is no reason to be concerned. What I don’t want for you is joint and muscle injury or inflammation. If you do feel that you have caused something to flare up, use ice rather than heat to treat the painful area, as the issue more than likely involves inflammation. If the pain doesn’t resolve itself in a few days, give us a call, as it could be more serious.

Want more detailed information about yard work safety? Check out the American Chiropractic Association’s page dedicated to this information.

Dr. Sharman