According to BackCare, the UK’s national back pain charity, back pain is now experienced by one quarter of secondary school children, and is often associated with the heavy bags they carry and long periods of sitting.
As a posture teacher I agree that long periods of sitting are far from ideal and should be alleviated with frequent movement, a variety of working positions, and an active lifestyle. Having worked in the secondary school classroom for 25 years, I saw daily that most teenagers can benefit from expert postural education. Unfortunately, just trying to ‘sit up straight’ generally does more harm than good.
Young people are not to blame, for they are growing up in a culture which departed from traditional and functional ways of moving nearly a century ago. There is a marked difference between the way our young people sit, stand, bend and walk, and what you see in ‘traditional’ populations around the world. Though diverse, they actually share remarkably low incidences of back pain.
Today’s postural norms now come from unhelpful role models in the media, furniture that molds us into dysfunctional positions and fashions that restrict full movement of the feet, pelvis, hips and shoulders. Parents too often feel confused, and welcome help on how to set a positive example.
The very good news for people in their teens is that their bodies and minds are highly responsive to change. With the right guidance, fun and motivation, they can restore a more healthy, natural posture, feel more confident and comfortable, and save themselves from worsening back pain and joint problems. Living with poor posture is like getting old while you are young – whereas good posture can be maintained into a healthier old age.
I am running the second Gokhale Method Teens’ Posture Course immersion day at Badminton School, Bristol, on Sunday January 29th 2017, for students in school Yrs 10-13. Esther Gokhale’s Book ‘8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back’ is included, along with try-outs, demos, slides, video and on-line support. Cost: £170. Registration and further information from: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.gokhalemethod.com and Clare Chapman 07982 231317