There was “Keep your elbows off the table”, “I’ll give you to the count of three”, “Sit up straight” and so many more. Many of us remember our mothers giving us the best guidance in life, but maybe not always at a time we wanted to hear it. During the aftermath of mumbling and grumbling, we were simultaneously pondering the reason why our moms just wouldn’t get off our backs. But in truth, bypassing on these timeless generational examples of maternal wisdom, our mothers were the first ones to actually have our backs. In a world of video games replacing backyard football, the omnipresent cell phone cinema and digital homework, and the allure of the ‘Search n’ Scroll Social Media Time Vampires’ it can be concluded that the most important of these phrases of motherly love undoubtedly is related to posture. The hunched-over positions of playing Halo or Minecraft, looking through Facebook, or watching a Boss Baby marathon, are only slightly less concerning when compared to the posture of someone not wanting to do their homework or eat their vegetables. As a matter of fact, posture is an extremely underrated influencer of the overall health of one’s structure and the developing health of children and adolescents.
This is critically important in today’s society because the overall health of children is declining rapidly with the appearance of more chronic and infectious diseases, neurological and metabolic conditions, and musculoskeletal injuries than ever before at younger ages. One of the major links in these disorders involves the structural integrity of the spine and its influence on the most important system in a child’s body, their nervous system. Years of research and current studies, as well as medical texts, support the fact that problems in the nervous system resulting from structural aberrations of the spine can cause problems with muscle weakness, immune dysfunction, coordination difficulties, joint damage and advanced aging, respiratory issues, cardiovascular problems and digestive disorders among so much more. So, not only does the posture of a slouched kid look uncomfortable, but on the inside, there are many functions going awry due to the tensile stress on the nervous system from being in a collapsed and weakened structure even for as little as 20 minutes. It is absolutely a position of illness and not one of wellness and health. Unfortunately, there is yet a pill, potion, or medical lotion to address early compromised spinal structure in children leading to the manifestations of illness in their body so the number of kids with plaque in their arteries, neurobehavioral disorders, infections, biochemical and metabolic imbalances, cancer, diabetes, and obesity continues to rise. In fact, the NEJM in 2005 produced a terrifying assessment the roughly concluded that this is the first generation with the greatest potential to not outlive their parents. Is it the fast food?, the GMO’s?, the sedentary lifestyles?, the rise in obesity and diabetes in kids?, the genetics?, the video games, and TV? the technology and cell phones? the germs? the overmedicating of the undernourished? or is it something that continues to be overlooked that is a hidden link in all of the above, which is their posture?
The “slouchy kid” posture is happening in school, in airports, at the dinner table, in the car, on the couch, and is infiltrating both sexes, all ages, every culture, and changing the health of our kids in the process. In the slouched posture that is slowly becoming the norm, the child experiences reduced respiratory rates, altered endocrine function as stress hormones rise and sex hormones are depressed, increased pressure on the spinal discs leading to accelerated damage, stiffer joints, slower digestion, impairment of their sensorimotor and neurological systems, and compromised immunity due to the negative impact on the neuroimmunoendocrine link. They are slowly conforming to the position of a question mark, and we are left wondering why they are becoming sicker, weaker, and slower?
Despite the fact that there is not a medical solution to the problem of ‘slouchy kid’ posture and spinal position leading to abnormal health, outside of surgical correction for severe scoliosis, there is a more natural and biomechanical approach that can provide long-term benefits to all aspects of a child’s health. This strategy to improve your child’s health and reduce the negative effects of poor posture includes at its core corrective chiropractic care, optimal nutrition, and healthy movement. Essentially, Stand Strong, Eat Strong, and Move Strong. Appropriate spinal care and posture correction are best utilized by certified doctors specializing in Chiropractic Biophysics. Utilizing specific spinal Mirror Image adjustments, stretches, exercises, and home care this non-surgical spinal remodeling system can produce predictable results for children and adults who suffer from the negative effects of a weakened structure and compromised nerve tissue. Not only will your child have the ability to sit, stand, and walk tall and strong but their whole body will be functioning at a higher capacity and they will be able to reduce the likelihood of becoming part of the growing statistics of sick children. They will have the ability to go from the question mark ‘slouchy kid’ posture to a vibrant exclamation point of health.
A nutrition strategy that encompasses healthy eating practices begins at a young age, and since research has shown that excess body weight negatively changes spinal structure it is vitally important that parents provide nourishment to their children and not just calories. A balance of healthy fruits and vegetables with approximately 5-7 servings per day or about ½ of their plate is a great place to start to reduce negative impacts on their spine and the likelihood of becoming obese and developing diabetes. Phytonutrients are important for every part of their body including their brain and spinal health. Choosing organic options is always best when possible and making sure that they consume at least one-half of their body weight in ounces of water is a great place to start. It’s great to “eat the rainbow” but in the form of fruits and veggies, not candies. Healthy fats for brain health and lean proteins for joint, bone, and muscle strength are important additions to reduce the number of increasing pediatric orthopedic surgeries due to depleted nourishment of the body of today’s average child. Lastly, to truly Eat Strong parents need to incorporate a quality Multivitamin, Vitamin D, Omega 3 Fatty Acids, and Probiotic into their child’s daily supplement regime.
Finally, kids need to be moving. They are not designed to be confined to prolonged periods of sitting, especially with abnormal posture for the reasons stated above. For kids to Move Strong, they need to be involved in activities and have limits on their screen time. In addition, any tablet or phone screen time should be performed while on their tummy and typically for no longer than 20-30 minutes before transitioning to another activity. Make certain that any screen time is “earned” with physical activity of at least the same or twice the duration. When sitting for homework use a book stands to keep the head up and at school make sure that as often as possible neutral posture is achieved with the head over the shoulders, shoulders over the hips, and hips over the pelvis. This will maintain optimal structural and neurological health for as long as possible.
This list is not an all-encompassing list but it is a monumental step in the right direction for parents who are desiring stronger, healthier kids and are sick and tired of struggling with their ‘slouchy kid’ and the illnesses that often result. For more tips and information on how to turn your “slouchy’ kid into a ‘strong’ kid go to wfcalaska.com. To slightly paraphrase the famous Maya Angelou quote, ‘When we parents know better, our children do better.