Updated: Jan 26
We all heard it growing up..."sit up straight!" While we thought it was just our parents and teachers nagging us about appearing lazy or disengaged, there was actually a health component to their request.
The impact of cell phones and gaming on the physical health problems of our children only seems to be worsening. According to a recent UK study, up to 10% of 10-year-old children have signs associated with bad backs and 9% already have at least one degenerative disc.
These are all related to bad posture brought on from too much cell phone and gaming screen time.
Bad posture can have several impacts on the body including:
Shoulder, neck, and back pain
Degenerative disc disease
Excessive forward curvature (Kyphosis) in the upper back
Depression increased stress and diminished levels of energy
Digestive issues such as constipation, acid reflux, and hernias
Restricted or shallow breathing
Panic attacks can be triggered by shallow breathing, as well as fatigue, dry mouth, respiratory problems, and cardiovascular problems. As a result of this breathing pattern, tension can also be created in other parts of the body, leading to a lot of problems.
Sitting or standing up straight not only helps you or your child appear more confident, but it also helps to relieve muscle strain and backaches and improves breathing.
BAD POSTURE AND IMPROPER BREATHING
Many common aches and pains, particularly around the head, neck, and shoulders, may be caused in part by inefficient breathing. Problems like chronic headaches, numb and tingling hands, neck pain, or upper back pain might actually be caused by a respiratory issue.
Improper breathing can lead to several long-term health issues for your children (including mental health and ADHD), so teaching them the importance of a proper posture now, can set them on a course for better health in the future.
Can Bad Posture Cause Health Problems?
The short answer is yes, it can. Bad posture can lead to long-term health issues such as arthritis, neck pain, abnormal growth of the spine and bones, impact their mental health, and even impact your child's ability to breathe properly or obtain quality sleep.
Today's children are constantly on computers or phones for both school and personal use. Oftentimes, while on these devices, children assume a more hunched posture. Hunching for prolonged periods of time can have a negative impact on our lung intake capacity --- preventing your diaphragm from working efficiently to expand your chest cavity and lungs. Rounded shoulders and a forward head posture cause the muscles around the chest to tighten.
Without proper oxygen intake, other tissues in our bodies can't get as much oxygen which can lead to heart disease, shortness of breath, and cloudy thinking.
Can You Correct Years of Bad Posture?
The good news is that bad posture is something that can be improved at any time! Teach your child to see up straight with their shoulders back in a relaxed position. Additionally, remind them to take breaks from technology to stretch their neck and back and to breathe deeply from their diaphragm.
While you might find that you have to guide them at first, good posture is a habit that can be learned and one that will help to support long-term health for years to come.
As with any medical condition, consult your child's pediatrician should you see any of these symptoms in your child or if you suspect your child is suffering from an airway disorder.