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Posted on 27 August 2018
Tags: Back2School, Back-to-School

Sitting for Success: Your Child's Posture in the Classroom

Of the 1330 hours that children and teenagers spend in school each year, the majority will be spent sitting down in class, whether at a desk or on the floor. Incorrect sitting posture can affect blood flow to the brain, which causes tiredness amongst other nasty things—not ideal when you’re supposed to be learning!

In primary school the ultimate mark of power is when you get to Year 6 and graduate from sitting on the floor in assembly to sitting on the bench at the back. The floor is cold, hard, uncomfortable and hurts your back, right? Wrong. Contrary to popular belief, sitting cross-legged on the floor can actually be good for your spinal and pelvic health—if done correctly. By sitting in the correct cross-legged position on the carpet in class or on the floor in school assembly, your child will be strengthening their lower back, hips, and flexibility, all of which make for a healthier posture overall.

It is easy for seated posture to slip into the unhealthy “slouch” position, bent over like a C shape (picture a cashew nut), that has become associated with prolonged sitting. Many people assume that the correct thing to do is to overcompensate by sitting bolt upright, but this position tightens the back muscles and does not support the natural curve of the spine. Sitting in this tensed position will quickly tire the muscles and tempt you to collapse and slouch for relief.

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This C-shape is a dangerous position for the spine, because it compresses the intervertebral discs, as well as the internal organs. It crimps the arteries in your neck which bring blood and oxygen to your brain. This makes you tired, which makes it difficult to concentrate. Sitting this way often leads to postural changes which can be difficult to reverse. The spine naturally sits in an S-shape—since the majority of the school day is spent sitting, all that time with your spine bent into unnatural and uncomfortable positions can mean that will begin to form that way.

Unfortunately, during class time the choice to sit or not sit, and the choice of seating setup, is not something that your child can control. The school environment makes it impossible to tailor every child’s seating setup. Lacey, one of Willow’s chiropractors at the Yate clinic, advises that the best thing for your child to do in this situation is to keep their body moving as much as possible. Locking their body into one position for an extended period of time will be uncomfortable and stressful on the spine, which will encourage them to slouch over into the C-shape we discussed above (this applies to desk sitting as well as floor sitting).

Regularly switching positions and getting up to move about the classroom as much as is reasonably possible will ease the effects of a mostly sedentary school day. Encourage your child to spend their break and lunch time on their feet too!

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