Your child needs to learn good posture
As a parent, it’s your responsibility to make sure your child develops healthy habits. That can be a challenge: Explaining to your kids why eating vegetables or doing exercises is important is not always an easy task. Often, it seems that only nagging will accomplish your goal, but that never ends well. Save yourself and your kids from stress by making the learning process fun.
One of the most important habits is learning to keep a good posture. Good posture is important — it leads to healthy bone and muscle development and prevents pain. Avoid the need to make constant reminders to sit up straight by creating an environment in which good posture comes naturally and lasts for a lifetime. Dr. Hepler, spine surgeon in Palm Beach County, talks about easy ways to make sure your kid has it.
Get your 10-year-old a bicycle rather than a smartphone
One of the biggest challenges modern parents face is probably the overuse of technology gadgets by their kids. Playing with electronic devices often means spending less time actively and more time with shoulders scrunched up and necks bent down. Neck pain and damage sustained from looking down at cell phones, tablets, or other wireless devices is now being called “text neck.” Bending your head forward when looking down at the device puts more pressure on the spine and eventually causes pain. You may argue that the same happens when we read. Indeed, but the problem with gadgets is that it adds an additional activity, like texting or playing, and kids tend to spend more time with gadgets than books.
You don’t have to take away your kid’s phone; however, try to establish these rules if you want to minimize the side effects:
- Raise the phone to eye level so the child’s head doesn’t tilt to read it
- Disencourage playing with devices in bed, but rather make sure your kid has a comfortable sitting place for reading, writing and playing with the phone
- The best way to limit the usage of devices is to offer your kid a more entertaining alternative. Think about board games, puzzles, building blocks, and sports.
2. Chose a backpack wisely
Size and structure matters. Weight is important, too. Dr. Hepler, a spine surgeon in Palm Beach County, says that backpacks should not weigh more than 5-7% of the child’s body weight. Make sure the weight is distributed evenly and does not put pressure on a specific area of the back. Also ensure both straps are used, not just one.
Picking up and carrying a backpack is also an opportunity to teach kids healthy body mechanics. Instead of leaning forward and picking it up off the ground, kids should get close, bend at the hips and lift with the legs while tightening the abdominal muscles.
An alternative is a suitcase-like backpack with wheels, which can be dragged instead of carried.
3. Active means healthy
Some of our kids don’t need motivation- they love moving, playing, climbing and pushing. For others, you will need to show that being active is fun. Present your child with a variety of options to choose from: outdoor activities, sports, walks in the park or cycling to the nearest store. Make sure you are engaged in most of the activities yourself, as you are the primary example your child will follow, or consider inviting his/her friends over so your child has company.
Some kids want meaning and reason as to why they need to do exercises. Try to frame it in a more positive way. “You need to do this because you aren’t strong” is much different than “We can have fun doing wheelbarrow walks; they help us sit up straight and make us even stronger”.
All in all, Dr. Hepler, spine surgeon in Palm Beach County, urges you not to push your kid into exercising, but rather take a positive, slow but steady approach of introducing changes to your lifestyle. And remember, a kid will follow your example, so try to start with yourself.
Need advice or consultation with spine surgeon in Palm Beach County?
Dr. Hepler is an adult and pediatric orthopedic spine surgeon in Palm Beach County. He treats all conditions of the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine, and also provides spinal stenosis treatment in West Palm Beach, Delray Beach, Boynton Beach and Boca Raton. Additionally, he provides non-operative treatment options, such as pain medications, steroid injections, and physical therapy, as well as operative treatment, including both minimally invasive techniques and complex reconstruction. If you have any questions or would like to make an appointment, visit our website or simply give us a call. We are here to make you stronger and healthier!
The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.