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How many times did you hear, “Sit up straight!” as a child? How many times have you said this to your own child? At schools the era of being told to sit up straight is slipping away as new technologies overtake the tradition with more students slouching & slumping over laptops, iPads & smartphones for hours at a time. However, there’s a reason behind that famous advice: poor posture early in life may lead to a number of back problems and pain later on. That’s why researchers have conducted a number of studies to better understand slouching in adolescents.
In one study researchers had 1,5092 adolescents complete questionnaires about their lifestyle and experience with back pain. Their sitting posture, body mass index (BMI), and back-muscle endurance were also measured. Researchers discovered that boys were much more likely than girls to slouch. Watching TV, time spent on electronic devices, having a higher BMI, and having lower self-efficacy also increased a teen’s likelihood of slouching.
Teens who slouched also tended to have lower back-muscle endurance and a non-neutral standing position. Some teens noticed their back pain increased while sitting, and those teens often had poorer scores on a child-behaviour test.
As Dr John de Voy, President of the Chiropractors’ Association of Australia (CAA, NSW) said,“Technology is all around us and is here to stay. While it brings many positives, it’s also a double edged sword for our youth with more and more developing neck aches, back pain and headaches from overuse and poor posture habits at school and home. 84 per cent of Chiropractors listed teenagers as the most concerning group as they spend hours on their smartphones and iPads while travelling to school, then at school they can sit slumped and hunched over laptops, which continues into the evening while they do their homework and watch TV.”
Recent research in the US found ‘text neck’ to be an increasing concern with smartphone users spending an average of two to four hours per day hunched over, reading e-mails, sending texts or checking social media sites. That’s 700 to 1,400 hours per year people are putting stress on their spines, according to the research. “High-schoolers might be the worst. They could conceivably spend an additional 5,000 hours in this position,” said research author Kenneth Hansraj, who is the chief of spine surgery at New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine.
These findings suggest that whether or not a child slouches isn’t simply about whether they remember to sit up straight. Encouraging healthy lifestyle habits and a strong self-esteem could also play a big role in helping your teen develop good posture. To help with this increasing problem the CAA have developed an easy & enjoyable program to improve your health & the way your body functions. Consisting of a few simple daily exercises, the Straighten Up Australia campaign will help improve posture, stabilise core muscle groups, enhance health & prevent spinal disability.