“Dad, when I’m a teenager, I think I’ll roll my eyes at everything you say and use words like, ‘Whatever!’” Sarah recently informed me. “I’ll also walk like this...” And she proceeded to do a pretty good impression of a grumpy teenager with a slouch and a lazy walking style. “And I think I’ll carry my bag like this.” She dropped one arm of her backpack off her shoulder and slouched around even more!
“Wwwweeeeellllllllll,” I said, “not ALL teenagers act that way.” I had to resist the urge to start freaking out – my little girl a teenager? No way! I then explained further, “I actually think you’ll be just as sweet as you are right now at 7 ¾ years, as for the rest of your life. EVEN when you are a teenager.” (A bit of brainwashing at this age, I thought to myself, has to pay dividends at some stage down the track .……. Surely?)
But Sarah had demonstrated a good point. Teenagers do have THE worst postural habits. I routinely treat a lot of people suffering from pain in their neck, upper back and shoulders who tell me that they can trace the start of their pain back to their teenage years. In fact, these days, we are treating a lot of teenagers at Physique who have had long standing neck, upper back and shoulder pain due to joint and muscle dysfunction, all related to postural issues.
Teenagers have always slouched. But, I think these days they nearly always seem to be either staring at a small little screen near their laps or are in a heightened state of stress about their crazy study load. It is so important that we work really hard to encourage our teenagers to sit up straight when they are using their devices or studying. Remember, I said encourage, not nag! Some good cues to use are: “Lower you shoulder blades down towards your back pockets, have a curve in your back and try not to poke out your chin.” And if that fails, you could just yell out “SIT UP STRAIGHT!”
However, my pet hate is THE BAG. Those school bags are so heavy. I do not know how those little grade 7 boys and girls manage to even walk with that load on their back, let alone lug it all over the school yard. I know there is not much we can do to lighten the load, but please, please don’t let them walk around with the backpack slung over just one shoulder. Doing this causes an uneven load to be placed on their spine and we get a shearing force applied to the vertebrae. This force will cause spinal joint irritation, inflammation and eventually lead to pain.
If you do have a teenager suffering from pain, please bring them in to see us at Physique. Most of the time a small amount of treatment now, will save them a lot of pain further down the track. Remember to always encourage great posture and get a good backpack for them to use.
And for those of us who are yet to have teenagers: I am sure a little brainwashing now couldn’t hurt, could it?