istock_000003413395xsmallChildren can be terrible slouchers! You know the symptoms- shoulders down, stomach out, back hunched. There is no time like the present for your kids to learn good habits. In fact, the sooner, the better. Even if you children do not have medical conditions, such as scoliosis, which cause back problems, they can still benefit from doing posture exercises. After all, many children spend part of their days in rigid school chairs or slouched on couches watching television or playing video games. Keep exercises short and pain-free to ensure they stick with the routine! And maybe skip balancing books on their head…
Chin Glide
Some children crane their necks when trying to see something in the distance, reading or just participating in a conversation. Over time, this position strains the neck and causes tension in the shoulders and down the spine. Remind your children to tuck in their chins to keep their necks better aligned with their spines. In addition, teach them the chin glide. To do this movement properly, children need to keep shoulders down and necks relaxed. Instruct them to gently touch their upper teeth to their bottom teeth, avoid clenching, and glide their heads backward about an inch. They should keep their heads level and feel a gentle tension in the back of their necks. Have them breathe deeply a few times as they hold the position for 10 seconds. Tell them to relax and then repeat the cycle twice.
Balance and Movement
Physical exercises that develop gross motor skills, improve balance and build muscle tone can help improve posture. Create an obstacle course on a playground that has children running, hopping, walking on a balance beam, crawling, swinging, rolling and climbing. For more advanced activities, try balance and movement work that targets the core — the muscles in the trunk of the body that help hold your body in proper alignment. Yoga postures, particularly various warrior poses and tree poses, draw from these core muscles.
Sitting Stretches
Have children improve posture by doing sitting stretches. Children begin by sitting in firm, but comfortable, chairs. They should be able to place their feet flat on the ground while sitting up straight, without their backs touching the chairs. Have them breathe deeply, tensing and releasing the muscles of the neck, shoulders and back. On the inhale, have children exaggerate proper posture by pulling their shoulders downward and backward, so they have a small arch along their spines. They can exhale and then bring their arms overhead with their palms facing outward. Have them inhale and release the hold, bending their elbows toward their backs and pushing their chests outward. Have them hold the position for 10 seconds before repeating the cycle twice.