If you are like us and you let your kids have some more screen time over the holidays, just keep an eye on their posture. They may have been excited to have some extra time playing Minecraft, Candy Crush or Skylanders or watching Youtube but you may have noticed after a couple of days they have complained about a sore neck, upper back or shoulder. Generally this is due to holding positions like this for long periods of time with no breaks. Holding these positions can cause muscle tightness, pain and headaches – something we don’t want when school starts!
Your child may describe neck stiffness, muscular tightness around the neck and shoulders and/or pain throughout the back and shoulders also.
Here are some tips to help your child avoid these issues:
1.Maintain Neutral Postures
Excessive bending or slouching through the back, or alternatively sitting extremely upright, can cause strain on the neck and back muscles. Try to sit upright but relaxed, with your head relatively inline your shoulders and a slight inwards curve of the lower back. Avoid any twisted positions – the shoulders and hips should face the same direction.
2. Vary positions!
Even the most optimal posture is detrimental if held for long periods of time. Encourage regular breaks (standing every 30 mins) and a small walk around every one hour. Slight changes to the seated position regularly is also very important – this often comes naturally to maintain comfort, but when your child is ‘in the zone’ with their game, try linking changes in position to events that occur in the game (e.g. every save point, every new round/game/level, every ‘death’) which will help with adherence and forming new positive habits.
3. Stretches and movement
In addition to having regular breaks, it is beneficial to include some specific stretches and movements to your daily routine to ensure good spinal mobility and optimal muscle length of the muscles of the neck and upper back (see below).