Why do we see so many postural problems?

by Joan
(USA)

(OT Mom added this pic of a child with poor posture)

(OT Mom added this pic of a child with poor posture)

I am a teacher and your articles, particularly the essential bases for fine motor development helped clarify for me just which gross motor skills support fine motor development - I have been speculating about why I see so many postural problems, tucking in of elbows, and odd compensations such as hooking one's arms over the back of a chair while sitting.

Is it just that children are not getting outdoors - or that they are raised in a series of containers? It seems so simplistic. I suspect that there is also the fact that in suburban America parents are rarely comfortable allowing their children out unsupervised, even in their back yards. So there is no free play, running around climbing a tree, or pulling your baby brother in a wagon (I've been thinking particularly about the shoulder girdle problem). Instead they are walking with mom on a
sidewalk. Perhaps they are not crawling?

What do you think?

Comments for Why do we see so many postural problems?

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The modern lifestyle has affected kids' development
by: OT Mom

I think the modern lifestyle has definitely taken away from our children's physical development.

There have always been children who have a tendency to be clumsy, or have low muscle tone (eg it can run in the family), and those children are even more at risk today as they have little opportunity to overcome their natural weaknesses.

And then there are kids who should have been fine, but have not had opportunities to play and exercise outdoors. Think about parents using the TV and computer games as babysitters as they are too tired after work to play with their kids. Kids don't ride their bikes to the park anymore (safety), mom and dad drive everywhere (so kids' endurance of physical activity is low, so they give up more easily).

I also think that infants nowadays spend more time in car seats and walking rings than on their tummies and crawling, which means less shoulder girdle development. In SA, we have lots of babies being carried on their moms backs until they can walk, so again, all kinds of motor skills are affected.

Has anyone got any other thoughts?

A Different World, a Different Lifestyle
by: klchandler

I believe much of the postural weakness observed in children these days can be traced to a much more sedentary lifestyle arising out of parents' fears that our children will become victims if left outside unattended. Years ago, children could play in relative safety throughout their neighborhoods. Today much more time is spent inside in less active pursuits; watching TV, surfing the web, or even reading or coloring. With less activity comes less demand for muscle strength and coordination to develop.

Poor posture
by: Tracy-Ann

As a grade 1 teacher I have found over the years, posture is getting worse and worse. However, I have seen how babies are taught to sit in prams, bumbie chairs, rockers, walkers, strollers and even in trollies. The car chairs are also rounded. I really believe that there is a direct link between using all these contraptions and poor muscle tone of the tummy. Years ago children learned to sit on their own by balancing and using the muscles. I have so many children in OT in my class it is worrying.

Inactive Children
by: OT Mom

I totally agree! All of those baby equipment make life very convenient for the parents, but they do the children no favors at all. Baby car seats, bumbies, bouncers and walking rings all keep the child in a position where he is able to use his hands to play with toys, without learning to hold himself in position.

Sometimes, parents are too busy and harassed to give their baby attention and to get down on the floor with baby to show her how to play down there. Other times, I have noticed baby is so spoiled by mom or nanny's undivided attention, that they jump to his every squawk and he never learns to entertain himself. I would prefer to let him niggle a bit on the floor and give him interesting things to look at, music to listen to, or ask a sibling to entertain him, rather than putting him in a piece of equipment that makes him happy with too little effort on his part!


Too much indoor time!
by: Cathy

I think kids today miss out on developing their co-ordination, fine and gross motor skills, because they are inside playing on electronic activities (which are fun too, of course).

However, while they are indoors they don't get to make mudpies, climb trees, build rafts and cubbies, fossick for shells and insects, which is all play that develops physical and mental dexterity!

I agree!
by: Felicity

Agree with all the comments so far.

I'm in Australia and we have the same problems it seems are arising in other developed countries: lack of normal, incidental physical activity leading to poor posture and other physical problems.

The causes are the same too: too much time on computers, TV and electronic games and not enough time outdoors, either because Mum and Dad are worried about safety issues or they're too busy/lazy/disinterested to encourage other activities.

I guess people weren't aware of how important all the normal physical stuff and play that used to happen naturally actually was until it didn't happen any more (if that makes sense?)

postural problems?
by: Judy

I feel confused about postural problems on the increase. My son was a strong baby, sat early, crawled on all fours from 6 months, walked at a year and has always been physically active. He hardly ever watches tv, never plays on the computer and is often riding his bike, or messing around outside. Yet he's been referred for physio and OT for core stability issues and stamina and for strengthening shoulder girdle etc.
I can see that it is helping, but am really not sure why he has a problem, as he has always been physically active. He doesn't have low muscle tone, but he is hypermobile.

LIfe style
by: Glenda Paul OT NZ

I agree with the comments posted on OT Mum Website.
Too much time spent driving around trying to get to places on time.
Not walking or biking to activities.
Teachers and parents not modelling or training child to sit up properly or handle tools correctly.

reply to Judy
by: Tracey

Hi Judy!

Don't feel confused by the comments on this page. Most commenters are referring the the fact that our inactive and tech-driven lifestyles are hampering kids progress - that is the environment that is affecting them. So kids who should have no problems, struggle because of the lifestyle issues that have hampered development.

However, some kids naturally have those challenges despite their good environment - usually owning to lower than normal muscle tone, sensory processing issues or other contributing factors. No matter how good the environment is (like the one you provided for your son), they will still struggle and need additional help.

Sounds like your son has a wonderful mother - I am sure he will go on to do really well :-)

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