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Back to School – Straighten Up

Before back-to-school slumps your child back into the “backpack hunch,” build his posture awareness and document his growing, changing body with a posture picture. Annual posture pictures are a great idea to keep a visual record of how kids look and stand. While kids ignore a parent’s nagging to “straighten up”, seeing an image of their own body hunched over makes a big impact.

A Posture Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Upon seeing their posture picture, the first question people, kids included, usually ask is “How’s my posture?” This is followed quickly by a series of reasons why this particular picture doesn’t count and why it should be retaken. It always amazes me how completely unaware people are of what their posture looks like! I have heard thousands of people say they know they have poor posture, but nevertheless maintain that they can stand straight “when they want to.”

From kids to adults, people are surprised to see themselves standing with obviously distorted posture, despite their best efforts to stand tall. Plus, the posture distortions of today’s kids, who spend hours slumped in front of TVs, crouched over video games, and folded over computer keyboards, are likely to be worse than their parents as they get older.  This is why it is important for you, the parent, to build your child’s posture consciousness and help him to make changes to avoid having the dreaded “hunchback” later in life.

Taking your Child’s Posture Picture

Get a camera (the one on your phone is fine) and have your child stand in front of a wall or a door, facing you. When you are ready to take the picture, say these words to your child:

  • Stand normally.
  • Look straight ahead.
  • Relax, take a deep breath in and let it out
  • Now, SHOW ME YOUR BEST POSTURE.

Using these words makes your child form a mental note of their “best” posture. Kids (and adults) often experience a moment of uncertainty as they try to find exactly how their “best posture” feels…and that is part of the goal of this exercise. After you’ve taken a picture from the front, repeat the process for a back and side view picture. Print out the pictures, one to a sheet, and note how their posture looks.

Use a pen and ruler to perform a basic assessment of your child’s postural alignment. On the front and back view pictures, simply draw a line from the middle of their head to the middle of the space between their feet. If you child has good posture alignment it should be absolutely vertical. On the side view picture, draw a line from the ear to the ankle. This line should also be vertical if they have good alignment. If the pictures look significantly out of balance or uneven from left to right, consult a Certified Posture Exercise Professional (CPEP), chiropractor, therapist or other posture specialized clinician for an in-depth evaluation.

Making kids aware of their posture is the first step to encouraging them to maintain strong posture. If nothing else, from a teen’s point of view, stronger posture equates to looking more attractive, having more confidence, and performing better at sports. They may still ignore your advice (as children and teens are wont to do), but by establishing their baseline posture, they will remember how they look now, and you’ll have a good comparison to review next year when it’s time for their annual posture picture.

Author Bio: Dr. Steven Weiniger, internationally renowned expert on posture and anti-aging, is author of Stand Taller ~ Live Longer: An Anti-Aging Strategy. He is also senior editor of BodyZone.com, an online wellness resource which offers a national directory of Certified Posture Exercise Professionals and other professionals specializing in posture improvement.

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