By Ellen Phillips
Physiotherapist at Life Ready Physio + Pilates Bayswater
Teenage years are a crucial time for developing good postural habits to lead a healthy long life. However, many teens spend long periods of time sitting both at school and at home on the computer and electronic devices. This can have lasting effects on their adult musculoskeletal health.
Poor teen posture can occur in many forms. The most recognised type of poor posture is slumping forward or slouching through the upper body. This is usually due to muscles in the upper and lower back being weak and not being able to hold the body upright. It’s increasingly common with more and more teens spending excessive time at the computer and using tablets.
Another form of poor posture is sitting too upright and rigid due to muscles being overactive and not being able to relax. This can often be seen with an increased curve or “arching” of the lumbar spine. Muscles in the lower back are overactive and tight and core abdominal muscles are often weak and not being used sufficiently.
Poor teen posture that continues into adulthood can lead to long term pain for a number of reasons. For example, muscle weakness caused by lack of use can lead to pain. This is due to excessive pressure being placed upon joints in the spine. Furthermore, muscles being overused and overworked can also lead to pain. This is caused by long term muscle tightness in the upper or lower back.
No one type of teen posture is worse than others, however, it is import to correct all forms of poor posture to ensure future wellbeing.
Physiotherapy can be a fantastic tool to correct poor teen posture. Physiotherapists conduct thorough assessments of posture to determine what the cause is and what can be done to correct it and prevent long term problems.
Physiotherapists can provide massage and dry needling to relax tight and overused muscles and can also create individualised strengthening programs to strengthen weakened muscles that may be contributing to poor teen posture.
These same principles can also be utilised in Pilates, which is a fun and engaging form of both strengthening and stretching that teens can enjoy.