There’s no denying that things are very different now for kids then when I was a child. While the debate rages on as to whether the advances in technologies are beneficial or detrimental to our kids, one thing I know for sure is that there is an increase in “detrimental” physical issues suffered by our children as a direct result of 21st century technologies and merchandise.
The first and most obvious negative change to children’s bodies comes from vast quantities of time spent being sedentary while assuming poor posture as they type, text, surf, and chat on laptops, tablets and smart phones.
Along with the statistically proven increase in obesity in children due to their increased lack of movement, there are other physical issues such protracted shoulders – a rounding forward of shoulders which causes upper back muscles to carry undue lengthening, while the chest muscles shorten which decrease upper body flexibility and strength.
Traveling downward, there is also a rise in weakened hips and transverse abdominus (muscles running from lower abs around to the delicate lower back region). This postural distortion comes from long periods of sitting with lower back curved and hips and knees stretched forward (like slouching in a sofa).
Both of these poor-postures can cause a myriad of painful issues as our childrens’ bodies grow such as chronic headaches, back aches (between shoulder-blades and lower/sciatic region), and knee pain with reduced strength, speed and ability.
But another postural negative issue recently slapped me in the face when I realized that although I had noticed my daughter’s pronated foot stance for quite some time, it wasn’t until she’d been consistently complaining of foot pain that I realized there was an issue needing correcting. When children (or adults) stand in an uneven manner on their feet, i.e., feet rolling inward (pronation) or outward (supination) not only will their ankles, knees and hips have alignment problems (which causes pain), but their arches will not be supported and their feet will grow incorrectly and suffer from chronic discomfort in and out of shoes.
I now see that many children are suffering from pedi-postural distortions and I blame this on the plethora of cheaply made shoes with little to no arch support (think Toms with their cardboard soles or 90% of the shoes from Payless and Target).
For all of these issues, the solutions are easy to implement, although they will take time and sometimes some money to fix, but the long-term ramifications are positive and well-worth the time and cost. There are corrective exercises for each that I can instruct you on (or you can surf the web), and there are devices that can help in the severe cases (like shoulder trainers or arch-supporting insoles).
Clearly electronics and other devices that have helped cultivate our rampant postural distortions are not going away, but we can still counter-act their negative effects. I suggest you take a look at your kids’ postures head to toe (and yourself too), and get on fixing these issues before they suffer long-term pain and decreased use of joints and muscles.