Posture & Upper-Body StrengthCrabwalks improve posture by developing upper body strength

Poor posture has detrimental consequences

It is becoming evident as well as alarming that even very young children are struggling with poor posture and the ability to sit up straight. It is crucial that educators and parents work together to improve the posture of children, no matter the age. Their well-being now and in the future depends on it.

Children of all ages are watching screens and sitting poorly in chairs. They are often in a slouched position with the head forward for long periods of time.

This slumped over position creates a lot of strain on spinal muscles, joints and ligaments, which can result in pain and injury. Poor posture can also lead to premature wear and tear of the spine. This can have life-long side affects hindering physical well-being.

As a child is growing, bad posture can lead to abnormal positioning, abnormal growth of the spine and, ultimately, increased arthritis later in life. Being slouched over also results in the chest being in a concave position making one more prone to lung- related illnesses.

Why good posture in children is crucial for their well-being

According to Dennis P. Devito, M.D., Medical Director of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Scoliosis and Spine Program, poor posture’s biggest impact on kids isn’t a hunched appearance—slouching hinders the body’s ability to move efficiently.

“When we walk, our head and neck should be centered over our hips. With poor posture comes less efficient movement, meaning fatigue may set in earlier,” he shares. “If you walk or sit bent over, not only are you more likely to tire sooner, but you may develop muscle pain as well.”

In addition to muscle pain in the back, neck and shoulders, Dr. Devito also notes that poor posture can lead to problems in other parts of your child’s body as well.

Core strength can suffer as the back and shoulder muscles take on the brunt of the body’s hunched position, while hip muscles may become tight and limit your child’s movement.

How we can support and prevent poor posture

 To correct your child’s posture, make sure they know what good posture is. Show them how to sit and stand properly and set an example by correcting your posture, too. When you notice that your child’s posture is poor, give a gentle reminder.

Standing up straight and tall also helps your child feel more confident. Give praise when a child is sitting or standing properly. This can go a long way.

As children’s back and shoulder muscles get stronger, they will be able to hold good posture longer and with fewer reminders. Encourage your child to take frequent breaks from using computer screens or watching television to stretch tired muscles.

It is important children sit in child-sized chairs as much as possible. The feet should be able to be placed flat on the floor and the knees at right angles to the hips. The table or desk level should enable the arms to be at right angles to the elbow. 

Strengthening back and shoulder muscles with physical activity and continually attempting to improve their sitting and standing positions will improve posture over time. 

The superman pose develops core strength and flexibility

Six fun activity ideas that develop upper-body and core strength and improve posture

  1. Beanbag head balance: Walking with a beanbag or book on the head to a given point. To walk backwards and sideways will add further challenge. Supports posture and spatial awareness
  2. Superman: From a lying position on the tummy, the “superman” position is held. The chest and thighs must be lifted off the floor with the legs held straight. Prolong the saying of the word “superman” aloud and the children hold the position until you finish saying the word. Develops core strength, stamina and flexibility of the spine. (See our post on Core Strength.)
  3. Crab walk: Move forwards, backwards and sideways like a crab. This opens the upper chest muscles! To add further challenge place four or five low cones or even small soft toys in a line, the hips must then be lifted high while crab walking over them taking care not to touch them while doing so. Develops core, and arm strength and stamina.
  4. Rear support ball roll: This is a great partner activity. One child gets into a rear support position with legs out in front and the hands placed behind the back. The hips are lifted towards the ceiling so a straight line is formed from the shoulders to the toes. This develops core and arm strength and shoulder flexibility. The partner can roll a small ball down their body. Then the children can switch roles.
  5. Penguin walk: Have the children do the penguin walk by pushing their shoulders back and chest forward, legs straight and the toes outwards. Develops shoulder flexibility and opens the chest. It is a great transition activity.
  6. Snake yoga pose: From a lying-on-the-tummy position with the hands placed on the floor next to the shoulders, the upper body is pushed up with the eyes looking towards the ceiling and the back arched as much as possible.

Rear support postion for Partner Ball Roll activity

Developing good posture in children has long-term benefits that will pay off throughout their lifetimes.