First, let me just say that I’m a huge advocate of getting children into sports and activities. Movement is critical for their developing nervous systems. Not to mention all the other great benefits: skill development, social interaction (that includes more than abbreviations and emojis), positive mentoring from coaches and learning the value of being part of a team or club.
That being said, as a chiropractor, I watch the neuro-structural development of kids in my practice every day. And I see how kids’ changing lifestyles are impacting their posture in a way we’ve never seen before in the history of humankind.
How does this relate to sports and activities?
As kids become more and more sedentary and spend hours on devices, their posture is changing at an alarming rate. Look at your own children from the side. Do their ears sit squarely over their shoulders or has their head moved noticeably forward? Are their shoulders confidently straight or have they begun to roll in? Do they sit up straight or are they slouched as they play video games, Snapchat their friends or eat dinner?
Postures we only used to see in older adults are now being seen in kids as young as 7 or 8. And many teens have the slouched posture of an 80-year-old.
Why does this matter?
It’s simple. Our spines dictate our posture. If a child has anterior head carriage (where the head is moving forward from the shoulders), it means their cervical spine (their neck) has lost its normal shape. Because the spine houses and protects the spinal cord - their lifeline to the brain - this is bad news.
Changes in posture indicate stretching and pressure on the spinal cord. This means the brain and body can’t communicate the way they were designed to. Over time, this WILL cause health problems you may become aware of and problems you may not be aware of.
This is how sport can damage posture:
Think of the alignment of the wheels on your car. If your wheel alignment is off and you continue to drive, what happens? More problems than you started out with and a big mechanic bill.
Kids’ spines are the same. If there is an undetected structural problem in the spine and they exercise on it, it’s going to make the problem worse as time goes on. Exercise is fantastic for a spine that has good alignment; however, it causes excess wear and tear on a spine that has areas of poor alignment.
Over time, that wear and tear will put enough pressure on the spinal cord to cause problems in their health…headaches, attention deficit problems, back pain or stiffness, frequent sickness, repeated injuries that take forever to heal, and the list could go on.
How do you know if your child’s posture is a problem?
Get a neuro-structural examination with a chiropractor, preferably one who focuses on pediatric care.
2. Download our FREE Posture Self Assessment Tool for a quick, at-home screening of your kids (or your own) posture.
Feel free to call the office at 647-995-1251 or check out our website by clicking HERE.
HI! I'm Dr. Shawna Dingman and I am the co-owner of Elevate Health Centres with my husband, Dr. Craig Dingman. I operate Elevate Women's Health Centre in Sunderland, where our family lives.
Speaking of family, I'm a mom of 3 amazing kids: Jackson, Jenna and Cole. I've always been passionate about the care of women and children, probably because I began my career as a pediatric and pregnancy chiropractor as a young mom with an infant! Aside from clinical practice, I also co-host a podcast for women chiropractors and coach women chiropractors who want to have practices that are a great fit for their families. In my "spare" time, I love to cottage with my family, hang out with the kids, read a book, catch a great show on Netflix, go for a run or have coffee with friends.