“Don’t slouch.” “Stand up straight.” “Shoulders back.” “Sit properly.” My mother frequently said those words to me as I was growing up. And yes, as a teenager I’d roll my eyes, thinking with exasperation “what does it matter?!” If only I knew then, what I know now …
Whether she realized it or not, my mother was on to something with her advice. True, her concern was about permanently rounded shoulders and my being left with sloppy posture as an adult, but proper posture – or the lack of it – can also inhibit learning. Who knew?!
Not surprisingly then, correct posture was one of the first lessons we learned when our daughter started vision therapy. Like a lot of people with her visual issues, she had developed some habits that we needed to work on eliminating. For example, when reading, my daughter often sat on the edge of her chair, with her head on her hand and one side of her face scrunched up, (some children will go so far as to cover one eye). I thought it was just her being huffy about having to read and do her homework (something she was loathe to do). Instead, this was a coping mechanism for her visual stress and fatigue when doing close work.
Proper posture while standing includes keeping feet apart, with knees slightly bent versus locked or hyperextended. Hold the head up and allow the arms to hang loosely along the sides of the body. Similarly, while sitting, one should be in a comfortable chair, with the head and torso aligned and both feet firmly on the floor. If the feet can’t reach the floor, either adjust the chair height, or add a box or stool beneath the feet.
(For more information about correct posture, check out the article entitled, “RID Stress” on P.A.V.E.
Standing or sitting correctly, means the energy the body was once using to maintain balance, can now be utilized more efficiently for the task at hand.
That was lesson one. Sounds easy, right? Not quite. Proper posture takes practice, especially when you’re seven years old. We begin most therapy sessions with a quick check of how we’re standing. Which leads me to my next point, most of our therapy exercises are done while standing. This helps my daughter to practice the proper stance; something she’s not too keen on doing. Our at-home exercises include a lot of prompts from me for my daughter to self-correct when her posture is out of whack. We do the same when it comes to reading and doing homework. Eventually, it’ll be old habit for her, and she’ll do it automatically.