Children are too much into their technology these days isn’t this just true???…..
What you are going to read next, will be the turning point of protecting your child’s muscles – joints and bones so please do pay attention to what follows……
I haven’t got any children myself, well not just yet, but most of my clients do. So when they visit the OLYMPOS clinic for their injury treatments or one of our super special Sports Massages (show off!!!), sometimes they bring the kids along. Especially when it’s half-term or even after school hours.
A lot of times the kids would ask me a set of very intelligent questions about the human body!
And of course, in a non-technical language, I would answer back to them and they always do look very interested in this topic.
However, there are moments in between our little educational chats (between them, their parents and myself) that they just sit down quiet and go on their phones.
I suppose when you are a parent that’s probably a glorious moment of silence!…
What they don’t know though and probably neither do you, is this:
Watch the yellow-dotted lines. These show how the spine is shaped when your child looks down to his/her phone. I know you probably think it’s too early in life to talk about posture and sitting habits but this is exactly the age where your habits are being formed!!!!
The dotted lines are drawn from the middle of the hip to the shoulders and neck. A very good posture would be if the lines were much straighter. But they aren’t…
Now watch the little girl at the far end. The straight yellow line shows the direction of her spine; not bad at all and this is probably down to the fact she has a much smaller body than her siblings. Meaning she doesn’t need to stretch her legs out much (which can cause posture mistakes). However, the arrowed line shows the position of her neck against the spine. And here we have the problem of too much bending through the neck…
These days children are indeed introduced to tablets and phones simply to keep them occupied and quieter, so as to be able and contact you if need be or purely as part of a fast developing lifestyle.
Nevertheless, technology WILL impact their lives in different means. One of them is the creation of bad sitting habits whilst looking down on their phones. This is proved to cause a significant amount of weakness into their necks and shoulders. This WILL eventually catch-up with them in the later stages of their lives. I have already seen a large number of shoulder problems in children, imagine how many more are on the way….
Further down this article, you will see one of my patient’s posture at the age of fifteen and then you will realise the importance of this article to you and your children.
QUESTION: How do children create habits?
There is a small area in everyone’s brain called the basal ganglia. This is the area of your brain that helps you make decisions like lifting your hands up to catch a ball when it’s thrown at you, or moving your feet to walk. As you can imagine, the basal ganglia will memorise movement patterns as from this age. A bad movement or a bad posture will not be noticed from the brain as bad until correction happens. The longer it takes you as a parent to recognise signs of bad posture habits in your child, the more difficult it will be to apply any corrections in the future. And this is because this basal ganglia thing will store this bad information and use it as something that is good and “normal”.
Because a bad habit is only bad the moment you realise what a good one actually is…
Look at the diagram below, the blue region is the basal ganglia itself…
You move the way you have been taught and you sit they way you are used to….
So in regards to sitting down and looking at a phone screen, your child will potentially be copying other children of a similar age or just create their own way of doing it. So “because everyone else does it it means it’s right…” your child’s brain thinks. However, there is only one person that can make them realise that what they do is wrong, and that’s YOU. And you do this anyway!
When they misbehave you tell them off. Basically you correct something that is wrong. And this stays in their heads and they grow up knowing for example that swearing is a bad thing to do or not sharing things is equally wrong. Any correction you make on them and for them stays WITH them for life. The same applies when it comes to movement and posture corrections for your child.
So here is a quick guide on what to do when your child sits down and starts looking down at his/her phone:
- Keep correcting them – They will always find it very irritating (as you may have already noticed!) but just keep doing it. At some point the correct information will eventually stick in their heads. And then their basal ganglia will process it as a “good” thing to do. Then it becomes automatic or shall I say it becomes a good habit. If you need any more information on sitting exercises or sitting posture advice here is the best link for you https://youtu.be/pdnckDr6tyQ.
- Correct your own self first!!!…Remember, your children will try and copy the people they spend more time with through the day. So correct your own sitting posture first, and I don’t mean sit straight up. At OLYMPOS we have a prime principle for all the Staff and all the patients:
And we shout this out at each and every single event we do!!!
Meaning, protecting your own posture and your own frame, in this case through sitting correctly, it will then prevent you from pain. Because pain inside your body always stems from over-tired muscles and joints as a result of bad posture habits. And this in turn will cause pain as there is not enough oxygen cells in those muscles and joints anymore. So until more oxygen arrives (that’s when you start the corrections), pain will keep bothering you.
—->>> SO WHY IS IT BAD FOR YOU TO LOOK DOWN AT YOUR PHONE??? <<<—-
—>>> WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO TO CORRECT YOUR CHILDREN’S POSTURE ??? <<<—
So, this is why looking down at your phone is bad for you:
—>> It puts your neck into a forward position. This position makes the muscles all around your neck to work excessively hard so as to bring your neck back. However, because your child will never correct their neck position (unless you follow the steps above), then those muscles will give up.
When muscles give up they go tight and into spasm, in simple language they lock-up. But your child won’t feel anything, especially at this age he/she won’t know what a tight muscle is supposed to feel like. All these will cause their overall posture to change. The first joint to have an impact on is the shoulder joint. Take a look at this…
This picture was taken at OLYMPOS after the parent’s and the patient’s written consents (consents kept on site). The parent and a chaperone were also present in the room at all times. This young patient was presented with a shoulder problem. Take a look at the left shoulder blade how much higher it is as opposed to the right one!!!
There is a very big chance this will also be the case with your child…No one feels or knows what happens on their back so it is always worth checking things out for any possible changes. These changes like the one in the picture indicate wrong positioning of muscles, bones and joints. And this is always a big alert for an injury on the way!!!
SO WHAT DO I NEED TO DO TO CORRECT MY CHILDREN’S POSTURE WHEN THEY GO ON THEIR PHONES???
- Put a cushion or two on their lap. This will automatically bring their hands and arms higher and closer to their eyes. Therefore they won’t need to bend their heads as much. Othwerwise, their elbows will be dropped down and the phone will be at the lowest point. This will make their heads tip down to get closer to the screen.
- Ensure they have regular eye tests. Some children might bend their heads more simply because they struggle to see the small letters on the screen from far away. The same might apply to you folks when you do the same mistake at your work station…
So, correcting yourself first before demanding it from your child is the key to protect their postures and their muscles. Here are some very useful links to help you do this faster:
For any further information on posture protection, pain prevention, injuries and stretching please feel free to contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07527-836-754.
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