Swimming and the right posture: Is the schoolbag to be blamed for everything?
Every autumn, when the school starts, no matter where you live, everyone starts going on and on about it. They all say how schoolbags are too heavy and that because of them children have bad posture, they cause spinal deformities, flat feet, etc. It is true though, there are more and more kids with these problems all around the world. However, if only we would to take a different angle and understand that the schoolbag is not the only reason for the bad posture. It is among the key reasons to affect kid’s spine in their growing period at the age of seven, because their life habits change at the same time, and daily routines too: they sit more at school desks, they sit back at home to do their homework. This also affects children between the age of 10 to 15 as they are just entering puberty and start growing even more. Yet again, the schoolbag is not the only reason!
Actually, when I come to think, didn’t our grandparents and parents too, go to school, carry heavy schoolbags, do homework… Yes, they did go to school mostly on foot, by bike or by bus, and they were not driven to and back from school as it is the case today. Whether we want to admit it or not, they used to move more, jump, run before and after school. Today, when I go out with my kids and head to the playground, we mostly hear silence. And when there are children, they mostly sit in groups, play with their phones, feed their digital pets, etc. They did nothing wrong, they just imitate our lifestyle as they see us sitting all the time. We sit in the car, at a computer desk, TV, on a park bench holding our phone… We really sit! The kids are just copying us. The amount of sitting we do, they do too. Sometimes I even wonder if kids today know how to run?! With some exceptions.
Therefore, in order to avoid this whining next autumn how our kids are too “crooked” to this or that side, no matter how heavy their schoolbag is, I suggest that we teach them to adopt some healthy habits and do some sport to strengthen their back muscles. In that way we will help them not only take the “load” off their back next school year but also in their life too.
To begin with, we need to choose the right sport for them. The wrong one at the wrong time can actually have a negative effect on their physical development, and at the same time their spine. Apart from recreational gymnastics, swimming is one of the sports that engages all muscles along the spine. Then what are we waiting for? Let’s get them into the pool. I’d suggest that each child should take some professional swimming lessons even if he/she knows how to swim. Why? Because there they can learn how to properly use
different swimming techniques and strengthen their muscles and keep the right posture.
Each technique contributes, in its own way, to the continuous improvement of the back, neck and shoulder muscles:
Freestyle: Not all kids have enough strength to properly start swimming breaststroke or butterfly. That’s why crawl and backstroke are the best way to teach swimming to the 5 to 6-year olds. These techniques (crawl and backstroke) help the right posture development with kids, and if they swim properly, they can strengthen different muscles and joints. They also help them improve their motoric skills through cyclic movements, as well as their cardiovascular system. Swimming is also ideal to help them deal with potential pectus excavatum (congenital deformity of the anterior thoracic wall) or spinal problems (lordosis, scoliosis, etc.).
Backstroke: This technique can help prevent bad posture and kyphosis. Later if we want to fix any other potential spinal deformity, we use this technique as it engages all the muscles that help us maintain the right posture. Of course, nothing happens overnight so you need to stay committed to swimming in order to see even the slightest improvement.
Breaststroke and butterfly: These two are more advanced techniques and they are used in later stages of swimming, when we have already corrected potential deformities, and we managed to strengthen our arm and leg muscles and develop enough shoulder and hip flexibility.
Swimming three times a week in combination with some other sport can drastically improve muscles development but also have strong effect on child’s health and posture, and prevent illnesses such as obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure. That’s why you should consider and enrol your child in a swimming class today and help him/her develop in the right way as tomorrow may be too late for his/her spine.
Many would say, better safe than sorry!