Yes. We will try, together with you, to go through the stages and deal & discuss most if not all the issues that could come in between you and what should be a most exciting and memorable time of your life. In this article we will concentrate particularly on the postural changes.
- We need to deal with all our physical changes.
- This places enormous pressures on our mental state.
- Peer pressures at home and school add to our problems.
- Is there anyone that we can talk to who really understands and will guide us through these times with compassion and genuine care & interest?
- It may seem to you that a social networking site is the only answer. Could be but doubtful. You may be copying others’ mistakes.
The challenging teenage years are known as the adolescence period. Between the ages of 10 and 17 there are major changes in physical, cognitive, social, and moral development. Through this period, you will see the greatest amount of growth in your height and weight, as well as experience natural puberty changes.
No they do not. An adolescent may grow several inches in several months followed by a period of very slow growth, and then have another growth spurt. Changes with puberty (sexual maturity) may occur gradually or several changes may become visible at the same time.
No they do not. There is a great amount of variation in the rate of changes that may occur. Some teenagers may experience these signs of maturity sooner or later than others. Every “body” is different and these changes will happen when your body is good and ready for it to happen – and not before. You cannot hurry the process. So ride with it and don’t panic if your growth happens to be faster or slower than your same age-group friends.
Here are some indicators which are based on averages for adolescents 10 to 17 years old:
The journey from childhood to adolescence is very challenging. Between the ages of 10 and 17 there are major changes in physical, cognitive, social, and moral development. The major task for adolescents is to establish their self-identity. By determining--as best they can--a sense of who they are, they usually attempt to move into a group that reflects or reinforces this self-identity.This phase of development allows the adolescent to search for their sense of self. This is in order to answer the increasingly important question that they could not consider in earlier stages of development: "Who am I?"
Physical development is a critical part of adolescence. How an adolescent perceives their physical self; that is, what they think they look like and how they feel about it, directly relates to their overall sense of self-worth. Many of these feelings are influenced by their culture, the media, their peers, and their families. They are also influenced by their own initial sense of self-esteem as they enter this rapidly changing phase of physical development. We know that the changes are rapid and often drastic, resulting in rapid growth and physical maturity, or the opposite.
In order to examine physical development in adolescence, let's break them down into two main stages. These two stages will focus on early adolescence, which is during the ages of approximately 10-14 for most children, and then late adolescence, occurring during the ages of 15-17. Many professionals are also using the term "emerging adulthood" to extend the period of adolescence into early adulthood, typically the ages of 18-23. This is the result of many American youth delaying adulthood by attending college or vocational schools prior to taking on the responsibilities of adulthood.
During this early stage of adolescence there is a sharp increase in physical growth. Childhood spurts start at around age 10 for girls and age 10 ½ years for boys. Changes occur in early adolescence at around age 11. Girls become taller and heavier. Their pubertal growth spurt occurs about two years earlier than that of boys. At around age 14, however, the boys' growth spurt begins again and they overtake the girls, as the girls are almost finished growing. Body changes occur during puberty that reverse some of the basic growth trends of childhood. For example, the hands, legs, and feet accelerate and then the torso, resulting in the adolescent height gain (Wheeler, 1991). This explains why adolescents often seem out of proportion for a while. They are awkward and gangly with long legs, and feet and hands that don't seem to fit the rest of their body. Then the body fills out. This explains the need for clothes that change sizes with the filling out of the frame (Berk, 2000). Boys tend to end up larger than girls. This is a result of two extra years of preadolescent growth. Their legs are longer in relation to their body and they have broader shoulders in relation to their hips. Meanwhile, girls end up with hips that are broader in relation to their shoulders and waist. This is a result of the sex hormones acting on skeletal growth. Gains in large muscle development have leveled off by age 14 for girls. But, boys continue to experience a dramatic spurt in strength, speed, and endurance.
It should now be much easier to understand how all these changes will obviously affect your posture.
Good Posture is when your muscles, bones and joints are in the correct alignment, so that muscles are being used properly and to their maximum efficiency, which means not only will you have more power and control, but it also reduces the possibility of headaches and back pain in general, and avoids many other common ailments.
This means that the bones, muscles and the items that connect them all together – the tendons and ligaments – are in their natural and intended positions.
The best posture is always the one in which all body segments are balanced in the position of optimal alignment and maximum support, with full mobility possible.
Good Posture is important because the Human Body functions best when all its many different parts work in unison – together as one unit. That is the way it was designed to work. When one part is weak or diseased, other parts will be affected that do not even have to be directly adjacent of or connected to that part.
Poor Posture can be improved. Even more, good posture is essential for a healthy life. It takes a minimal knowledge to determine what is wrong, then some discipline and perseverance to get it right. The encouraging part is that you will feel the positive changes and some differences almost immediately.
You will have more Control, Balance and Power in everything that you do – all with a marked reduction in pains, if not a total elimination of the pains. You will be more agile and active; you will feel and look better and have more confidence. You will be alert and your concentration will improve. Even your digestive system will function better.
Whether we refer to an early 1900 motor car or the very latest and most modern car ever built, they have one very important feature in common – their alignment is perfect and symmetrical.
Now imagine if one of the front or back tires did not have sufficient air in it? Or what would happen if we did not tighten all the bolts as needed? Or what if the wheels were not aligned correctly? It is obvious that neither of these cars would run smoothly and they would eventually break down. Other parts of the car would be affected.
Try and imagine that the your arms are the front tires, your legs the back tires, your brain is the electronics and your abdominal, lower back and buttocks areas – what is commonly called the CORE of the body – is the engine.
Think of your body as a motor car. Before the car will move forward or back, you need to put it in to gear. In the same way, you have to put the body in to gear. How? By “squeezing” or “tensing” the abdominal muscles and then making the movement.
Join with me in doing the following simple experiment to prove the point:
Sit down in a regular chair. Now, without using your hands or arms, stand upright. Now that was easy, was it not? Now sit down again in the same upright position as before, but this time try to imagine that your whole abdominal area (all the muscles under the ribcage) is “dead”. They do not exist. Give yourself a few seconds to really concentrate on your “dead” abdominals. Again, please stand up. You should not be able to move even a few inches (or centimeters), never mind stand up! You should not even be able to move or lean forward. Why? It should now be obvious that it is impossible to make a move, any move, whether to stand up, sit down, turn, bend, and get in to or out of a car or even bed, without putting the CORE (refer to “What is the CORE” of my body”?) of your body into gear. The CORE is your weapon that will protect you against common injuries, will help you perform every movement correctly and with more power and balance.
This is exactly how the Human Body is supposed to function. If your posture is weak or not aligned in some way, tension and strain will be placed on other parts, no matter how strong or healthy they may be. Also, if one side of the body is weaker than the other side, it will also cause all sorts of problems.
The CORE of your body refers mainly to your hips, pelvis, abdominal and lower back muscles. You automatically – without even thinking - use the CORE of the body to make any movement. You will notice that all good sportsmen/women use this CORE area to create control, power, rhythm and balance. Take a closer look at the actions, even the smooth power & grace of a ballet dancer. Unless they utilize the CORE, they will not be able to perform at anywhere near their usual high standard. Every physical task is made easier, is better controlled, with greater safety and better balance.
Yes absolutely. Flexibility and strength start with the muscles, makes the tendons and ligaments stronger and also affects the density of your bones. This should be pure and simple proof beyond any doubt, about the importance of the flexibility, strength, alignment and well-being of every part of the body and how it affects other parts from performing well.
Improving the actual quality of your muscles and connective tissue by being active, doing a few minutes a day of general stretches and, if possible, strength development exercises, is the other aspect of this postural re-education equation. Long-term correction of your posture will only happen when all aspects are understood and addressed. This will be done in stages, and the pace will be determined by you.
Posture and good health go together. It is as important as eating right, being active, exercising, getting a good night's sleep and avoiding excesses of potentially harmful substances like alcohol, drugs and tobacco. Good posture creates more energy, less stress and fatigue. Good posture is a critical key to being healthy and physically fit.
Unfortunately, the importance of good posture in an overall fitness program is often overlooked even by fitness instructors. All body parts will respond better to a fitness program if they are in their postural correct positions. Once the benefits of good posture are appreciated, exercise benefits will come quicker and better, and the results will be well-being and good health, which will serve you positively throughout your life.
By making improvements at an early age, you will avoid major problems and discomfort. You will be able to absorb accidental falls or injuries which will allow you to enjoy more good living as you get older.
Awareness is critical. Postural awareness is a very important aspect. Being constantly aware, contributes largely to your postural re-education because if you are unaware of being in a faulty posture, you won't know when you need to correct it. You must be aware of times when you are hunching up your shoulders while working on the computer, or when your head is pushed or slumped forward, or if you sleep at night with two big pillows under your head which only emphasizes the faulty angle of your head in relation to your shoulders.
The aim is to allow your body to be in a position of least strain on supporting muscles and ligaments during any movement or weight-bearing activities. This applies to whether you are standing, walking, sitting or lying, as well as running, jumping or doing any other activities.
Keeping the muscles, bones and joints in the correct alignment so that muscles are being used properly and to their maximum efficiency, means not only more power and control; it also minimizes the possibility of headaches and back pain in general.
Optimal posture allows for pain-free movement with a minimum of energy expenditure, and will allow the body to act with the maximum amount of vigor, power and collective control possible.
Any deviations from the ideal and efficient alignment will eventually result in chronic pain symptoms as well as less power and flexibility.
Should you wish to know “How to Develop a Complete Stretching and Muscle Strengthening” program at home - Refer to the Links: “Stretching” and “Exercise”.
Standing, sitting and walking upright with a strong posture is important for everyone, but at no time is it more crucial to develop the habits of good posture than in the childhood and adolescent years. Many adults with chronic back pain can trace the problem back to their early years of bad postural habits or injuries caused by or made more severe in that period of their lives by them having had a poor posture.
As an adolescent, you are growing and on average and hopefully, you are relatively active, so that there may be an even greater risk of injury to the back and spine. According to studies, there is a significantly high risk associated with sports such as football, soccer, trampolining, gymnastics and of course, all the modern X-Sports and Games which have become such a rave. As an example, more than 1/3 of all high school football players sustain some type of injury. By the way, parents should seek professional advice for children in the event of even a minor sports injury.
Another important note not directly connected to Posture and for the attention of Parents – they should always be aware that babies who are not strapped into an auto safety seat run the risk of injury and even death in the event of a quick stop or an accident.
When certain muscles or groups of muscles are used more frequently (at work, play or during sports), they get stronger, larger and tighter. At the same time, the underutilized opposing muscles will be, by comparison, weaker and smaller. The eventual consequence could be that the joint/s will be in an abnormal position and slightly out of alignment. This is often very noticeable in the muscle development of tennis and baseball players.
Let us try a few simple experiments:
- Tuck your chin in to your upper chest / throat area. Now try to swallow. You should find it difficult.
- Another test – sit in a regular chair. Now bend over so that you head almost touches your knees. Now try to take a deep breath either through your nose or mouth. You should find that only a very small amount of air can be breathed in.
- Or stand upright and move your shoulders back and lean slightly backwards. This position also restricts the amount of air you can inhale. All these and many more examples prove that good posture allows ALL functions to be done comfortably and normally so as to obtain the best results and allow the Human Body to function as it was intended to do.
- Imagine what happens to all your internal organs if you walk or sit in a stooped forward position. Those organs are not going to be able to function correctly because of the pressure that they will be under. This was clearly demonstrated in the examples above. When we have the slumped forward posture, whether we are sitting or walking, organs such as lungs, intestines, and stomach are all compressed, limiting their ability to perform their jobs correctly.
- It is also impossible to breathe correctly with a stooped posture (Refer to the section on “Breathing Naturally”). Constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, limited lung capacity in sports, etc. can all be improved with better posture. Stooping also makes it more difficult to lift you feet or legs properly off the ground. Try bending forward at the waist or slump the shoulders and you should find it difficult to run, for example. This is one of the reasons that so many elderly people have falls. They cannot lift the feet off the ground whilst bent over and their balance is affected.
- Poor posture while sitting, walking or even lying puts extra strain on the neck and spine, causing pain and discomfort. The more you slump, lean or slouch in response to pain, the more the pain or fatigue that will be produced. Your doctor must find the source of the pain as soon as possible.
Excess fat is an all-round hazard. You will notice that we use the term “Fat” and not “Weight”. This is intentional. If you are “overweight”, lose the fat and not the muscle. Excess fat is dangerous. Lose it! Lose that extra fat! The more excess fat you have over what is recognized as a maximum for your body type, age and height, the greater the stress on your spine and joints. If you are carrying too much fat, losing even 10%-15% of your body fat will help the spine and all other body parts to work more efficiently and easier, with much less stresses. Losing excess fat will also make you feel better and help you to maintain a healthier lifestyle. If you are severely obese, talk to your doctor about a fat loss program that will allow you to safely lose excess fat, but make sure the program will not make you lose any of that valuable muscle. Alternatively discuss a few of our ideas that are contained in our articles with your doctor and get his approval to use our natural solutions.
You will note that we refer to “fat” and not weight. The reason is simple – Weight includes “muscle”, and we never want to lose any of that precious tissue. So diets for example usually refer to “weight loss”, which normally and unfortunately allows for a muscle loss of 60% or more of the weight lost. And it is extremely difficult if not probable for most people to regain that muscle!
- Helps decrease the abnormal wear and tear of joint surfaces that could result in arthritis later in life;
- Decreases the stress on the ligaments holding the joints of the spine together;
- Prevents the spine from becoming fixed in abnormal and un-natural positions;
- Prevents fatigue because muscles are being used more efficiently, allowing the body to use less energy with more power;
- Prevents strain or overuse problems;
- Prevents backache, headaches and muscular spasms or pain;
- Contributes to a good, strong and confidant appearance;
- Lessens the chance of losing balance.
It is important to know a few basic needs of the Human Body. Let us have a look at the make up of the Spinal Column, which extends from the skull to the pelvis and is up of 24 specially shaped bones called vertebrae. They are stacked one on top of the other, with the larger ones in the lower back section so as to support and carry the weight of the upper body.
The vertebrae are stacked one on top of the other and are grouped into the following sections:
The groups are made up as follows:
|No. of Vertebrae
|C1 – C7
|Chest & Middle Back
|T1 – T12
|L1 – L5
|5 become fused
|Between Lower Back & Tailbone
|S1 – S5
|No Ref #
1. Good all-round muscle flexibility.
2. Normal motion in the joints.
3. Strong postural muscles; A "postural" muscle is one that is always working to maintain our posture. Some examples of postural muscles are the hamstrings, lumbar erectors (the back muscles that hold your spine up), and the pectorals (chest muscles). Postural muscles are built for endurance and when they get tired they tighten up.
4. A balance of muscles on both sides of the spine as well as opposing muscle groups e.g. Chest and Back, Quadriceps (Thigh) and Hamstrings etc.
5. Awareness of your own posture, plus awareness of poor posture which leads to conscious correction. With much practice and awareness, the correct posture for standing, sitting, and lying down as well as when you are active, will gradually replace your old posture.
- Obesity and Excess Fat
- Weak muscles
- High-heeled shoes
- Carrying incorrectly – even handbags, briefcases, school bags etc.
- Tight muscles
- Decreased flexibility
- Poor work conditions at home or at school
- Poor sitting, standing and walking habits
- Injuries to hips or limbs, especially the lower body parts
- Pain in the back, shoulders, knees, ankles.
When you hear the term Body Mechanics, it refers to being able to maintain correct body positions during any movement. Constant or repeated small stresses over a long period of time can cause poor or faulty body mechanics and can lead to injury.
The term Ergonomics is the process of changing your environment or posture to encourage good body mechanics. This can be accomplished by being aware and then changing how you are presently doing common everyday tasks, which must also include checking and being conscious of your desk height, the comfort of your chairs at school and at home, etc.
The essentials of good body mechanics include:
1. THINK TALL – Stretch the top of your head toward the ceiling. Do this by imagining that you have a hook pulling at the hair on top of your head towards the ceiling. This will also help to keep your shoulder blades well aligned (but relaxed) and in a strong, confident position. This concept must be practiced when you are standing or sitting. Don’t pull your shoulders back or upwards un-naturally - you cannot hold them in such an un-natural position.
2. Hold your head up straight with your chin relaxed. Do not tilt your head forward, backward or sideways.
3. Your earlobes should then be in line with the middle of your shoulders.
4. Keep your chest naturally forward, not sunken.
5. Straighten at the knees, but do not lock or tighten them.
6. Tuck your abdominal area in by tensing / squeezing the abdominal muscles, which will tilt your pelvis slightly forward and up.
7. The arches in your feet should be supported by good footwear.
8. Avoid standing in the same position for a long time. When this is necessary, keep shifting your weight from one leg to the other, and try to elevate one foot by resting it on a stool or box or bar if possible. After several minutes, switch to the other foot.
9. If possible, adjust the height of the work table or desk to a comfortable level.
Decide which position you need to use. For each of these positions, face the object, keep your feet apart, tighten your abdominal muscles (put them into gear like a motor car as explained above), keep your head up and lower yourself using your legs. Try to imagine that your buttocks is moving to the floor, not your head or shoulders.
When you need to squat and intend to be in that position for a while, try to keep the chest as vertical as possible and control all the movements and balance from the CORE which we discussed above. Put the abdominals in to gear. This is usually OK for the younger generation, but difficult and not comfortable as one gets older and less supple. A better and safer method for all ages is to kneel on one knee (preferably with a small thin cushion under the knee) and place the other leg in front with the knee bent and the lower limb in a vertical position – the knee of this leg should be up against the chest. In both the Stooping and Squatting positions, place one foot slightly in front of the other, and avoid letting the knees over-ride (protrude) the vertical line of the toes.
When working at a desk, these are some Posture Friendly Tips:
Correct sitting position without lumbar support (left) and with lumbar support (right).
-Use a back support (lumbar roll) at the curve of your back. Your knees should be at the same level or higher than your hips.
-Move the seat close to the steering wheel to support the curve of your back. The seat should be close enough to allow your knees to bend and your feet to reach the pedals.
1.If you must lift objects, do not try to lift objects that are awkward or are heavier than 30 pounds (say 14 kilos). If you are younger than 16, and female, these weights should be reduced according to your capabilities. Similarly for boys.
2.Before you lift a heavy object, make sure you have a firm footing. Position your feet apart for a stable base.
3.To pick up an object that is lower than the level of your waist, keep your back straight and slightly bowed at the lower back, then bend at your knees and hips with the buttocks moving as directly and vertically downwards as possible. NEVER bend forward at the waist with your knees straight.
4.Stand close to the object you are trying to pick up, bend your knees and use a firm grip and test the weight.
5.Breathe in, tighten your abdominal muscles, bend your hips and knees and exhale as you lift the object using your abdominal and leg muscles, head up.
6.Straighten your knees in a steady motion. Keep the item close to your body.
7.Stand completely upright and do not twist the body whilst holding a heavy object.
8.Don't lean forward whilst carrying a heavy object.
9.If you are lifting an object from a table, slide it to the edge of the table so that you can hold it close to your body. Bend your knees so that you are close to the object. Use your abdominals and legs to lift the object and come to an upright standing position. Exhale on lifting.
10.Avoid lifting heavy objects above waist level.
11.Turn or lead with your feet, not your body.
12.Lower the item using the same technique in reverse order.
- Carry only the items that are required for each particular day.
- Avoid a heavy purse (tote, bag) worn over one shoulder. This can place too much weight on one side of the body and can cause neck, shoulder, and back pain. If you must use a bag or briefcase with a single strap, make sure the strap is padded and wide. It is recommended to wear a strap that is long enough to place over the head resting on the opposite side of the bag or briefcase. This can help to distribute the weight more evenly.
- People of all ages use a backpack today – preschoolers, students, office employees, teachers, backpackers, even grandparents! Many people pack the backpack to its absolute capacity! Beware.
- Some children carry almost as much weight in their backpack as they weigh! A loaded backpack should not exceed 15% of the child’s body's weight and should never weigh more than 25 pounds (say 12 kilograms).
- Choose a backpack made of a lightweight but strong material.
- Make sure the shoulder straps are adjustable, wide and padded. A backpack with a waist/hip strap is preferable. Wear the pack with both shoulder straps and hip strap.
- Pack the heavier items towards the back. Backpacks with many compartments can help to equalize and distribute the load more evenly. Pointed and sharp objects should be packed away from the spine.
- Ask for help to lift and position the backpack, so as to avoid swinging it on to the one shoulder and then the other.
- Parents should talk to their child's teacher and arrange a program to eliminate the need to haul excess books back and forth from home to school.
- No matter what position you lie in, the pillow should be under your head, but not your shoulders, and should be a thickness that allows your head to be in a normal horizontal plane to the spine.
- Try to sleep in a position which helps you maintain the curve in your back (such as on your back with a pillow under your knees or a lumbar roll under your lower back; or on your side with your knees slightly bent). It is good to sleep on your side with your knees drawn up to almost your hip level. You may want to avoid sleeping on your stomach, especially on a saggy mattress, since this can cause lower back strain and can also be uncomfortable for your neck.
- Select a firm mattress that does not sag or give in too much in the middle. If necessary, place a board under your mattress. You can also place the mattress on the floor temporarily if necessary. If you've always slept on a soft surface, it may be more painful to change to a hard surface, especially at first. Try to do what's most comfortable for you.
- At the start of trying to change your sleeping position, try using a back support (lumbar support) at night to make yourself more comfortable. A rolled sheet or towel tied around your waist may be helpful.
- When standing up from the lying position, first turn on to your side, draw up both knees and swing your legs off the side of the bed using the abdominals. . Sit up by pushing yourself up with your hands. Avoid bending forward at your waist. Again use the abdominal muscles to "motor" yourself up.
DUE TO OUR MODERN LIFESTYLES AND LACK OF AWARENESS, POSTURE RELATED PROBLEMS ARE INCREASING -
Yes, there are. Try to go through the following few successful routines to get the posture into its most natural and needed position:
1.Stand with your back against a wall. Your heels should be 3 inches (say 7 cms.) from the wall. Now imagine that the top of your head is attached to a rope which is knotted at the ceiling end, and that you are being stretched up to the ceiling. Now press both shoulders back against the wall, and slide your head back so it is touching the wall. Keep your eyes and chin level to the floor. Keep your abdominal muscles tucked firm – don’t let them hang loosely forward.
Once you are able to get into a comfortable position – not always so easy at the start - go to the next step which is to slowly bring your head as far forward as possible without letting your shoulder blades come away from the wall. It sounds like you have to be a contortionist, but you don’t. Keep your eyes and chin level to the floor as you now slowly slide your head back again to try to touch the wall. Repeat this five times and finish with your head in the back position.
Once you have your head back as far as possible try to maintain that head alignment while you step away from the wall. This position is where you want to try to hold your head when you're standing or sitting. If you ever notice your head has slipped forward into your old faulty posture, just practice these movements a few times and again try to keep the head, neck and shoulders in a proper alignment.
2.The next movement is designed to help you determine where your pelvis should be, and it will also help develop flexibility for your lumbar spine and increase your range of motion. Stand some 3 inches (say 7 cms.) from the wall with your feet about one and a half feet apart. Bend your knees slightly. Bring your lower back into as much of a curve or “sway back” as possible without creating pain, that is to move the buttocks backwards towards the wall. Don't squeeze your buttocks to do this - it should all come from concentrating on tensing the abdominal muscles.
Repeat this movement five times in slow deliberate repetitions. Don’t move the upper body (torso). The pelvis should be the only part that is active.
You will need to push yourself to do these movements on a daily basis. So be regular and work on these corrections throughout the day, every day.
At first these corrective movements won't feel natural, and they will feel forced and awkward. That is because 'forcing' the good posture in to its correct position is exactly what is happening. But eventually it will all fall into place. You will soon be able to make corrections as a matter of habit. You will automatically try to maintain the correct posture whilst going about your daily activities.
The more time you spend in the corrected posture the easier it will become because your tight muscles will be stretching, your weak muscles will be strengthening, and your brain will consistently be reminded of where you 'should' be. Eventually it will become natural to hold yourself in a proper posture without your awareness or conscious control.
It is worth mentioning some of the functions of the Spinal Column. This will help you understand why correct posture is so crucial to overall well-being.
The Human Spine -
- Gives Protection to the Spinal Cord, Nerve Roots & many internal organs.
- Is the Base for Attachment of the Ligaments, Tendons & Muscles.
- Gives Structural Support for the Head, Shoulders and Chest, Connects the Upper and Lower body.
- Is critical for Balance and proper Weight distribution.
- Flexibility and Mobility
- Allows & controls the following movements -
Flexion (forward bending), Extension (backward bending), Side bending (left and right), Rotation (left and right) And a Combination of all the above.
- As well as - Bones produce red blood cells and store Minerals.