The Importance of Corrective Exercise for Kids and Teens

Corrective exercise is often associated with adults, but it’s equally if not more important for kids and teens. Due to the early introduction and heavy use of computers and digital screens over the last couple of decades, we are seeing signs of severe degeneration and arthritic conditions in younger bodies (20s and 30s, yikes!) that used to only be prevalent in older bodies (60s, 70s, and older). This is especially noticeable in spine and shoulder x-rays. Early intervention with corrective exercises can help address postural issues and movement patterns before they become fixed, setting the foundation for a healthier adulthood. Let’s look at why corrective exercise is beneficial for young people, and how parents can recognize common postural issues.

Why Corrective Exercise for Kids and Teens?

  1. Prevention of Long-term Issues: Addressing postural and movement issues early can prevent them from developing into chronic pain or injuries in adulthood.
  2. Improved Performance: Corrective exercises can enhance athletic performance by ensuring that the body moves efficiently and effectively.
  3. Boosted Confidence: Good posture can improve self-esteem and confidence, which is crucial during the developmental years.
  4. Healthy Habits: Establishing healthy movement patterns early on encourages lifelong fitness and well-being.

Common Postural Issues and How to Recognize Them

  1. Forward Head Posture:
    • What to Look For: The head juts forward, often due to prolonged use of electronic devices like smartphones and computers.
    • Signs: Neck and shoulder pain, frequent headaches, and a noticeable curvature of the upper spine.
  2. Rounded Shoulders:
    • What to Look For: The shoulders roll forward, often a result of poor sitting habits or carrying heavy backpacks incorrectly.
    • Signs: Upper back pain, reduced shoulder mobility, and a hunched appearance.
  3. Anterior Pelvic Tilt:
    • What to Look For: The pelvis tilts forward, creating an exaggerated curve in the lower back. This can be caused by weak abdominal muscles and tight hip flexors.
    • Signs: Lower back pain, protruding stomach, and difficulty standing for long periods.
  4. Flat Feet:
    • What to Look For: The arches of the feet collapse inward, which can affect overall posture and alignment.
    • Signs: Foot pain, knee pain, altered leg alignments (typically noticeable at the knees), ankle instability, and wearing out shoes unevenly.
  5. Scoliosis:
    • What to Look For: A lateral curvature of the spine, which can develop during growth spurts in adolescence.
    • Signs: Uneven shoulders or hips, one shoulder blade protruding more than the other, and an uneven waistline.

It is important to note that younger bodies often adapt more easily than adult bodies. This means that the absence of pain is NOT a good indicator of whether there is a developing issue in a younger body. Objective assessments are recommended to determine if the spine and joints are developing healthily.  Alternatively, if a posture is already stressing a younger body past the point of adaptation and creating pain, this is typically a very strong indication that the need for intervention should not be ignored.

Benefits of Corrective Exercise

  • Strengthening Weak Muscles: Exercises target and strengthen muscles that support proper posture and alignment.
  • Improving Flexibility: Stretching tight muscles can help correct imbalances and improve overall flexibility.
  • Enhancing Coordination: Corrective exercises improve neuromuscular control and coordination, promoting better movement patterns.
  • Reducing Pain: Addressing the root cause of poor posture and movement issues can alleviate pain and discomfort. 

Other Healthy Habits Parents Can Support

  1. Encourage Physical Activity:
    • Promote regular physical activity that includes a mix of strength training, flexibility exercises, and aerobic activity.
  2. Limit Screen Time:
    • Encourage breaks from screen time and promote activities that involve movement and good posture.
  3. Proper Backpack Use:
    • Ensure your child uses a backpack correctly, with both shoulder straps, and that the weight is evenly distributed.
  4. Create an Ergonomic Study Space:
    • Set up a study area with a properly sized chair and desk, encouraging good posture during homework and computer use.
  5. Model Good Posture:
    • Children often mimic their parents’ habits, so demonstrate good posture and movement patterns yourself.

Final Thoughts

Corrective exercises are a valuable tool for kids and teens, helping to address postural issues early and promoting lifelong health and well-being. By recognizing common postural problems and supporting your child’s physical activity, you can play a crucial role in their development and overall health.

If you have any questions or need further guidance on corrective exercises for your child, please reach out to us. We’re here to help you and your family achieve optimal health and well-being.