Kids ergonomics: what you need to know while your kids are learning from home!
On Monday those of us with primary and early secondary school kids are heading into at least another month of learning from home. While we may have a Study at home that can be set up ergonomically, it is much less likely that there are two, three or four suitable areas in the house!
Kids’ growing bodies also suffer from strain if they are required to sit in less than ideal environments for long periods of time and so we want to provide you with some useful and practical tips to help their bodies cope with the extra biomechanical strain that can arise when learning from home!
Being at an appropriate height for the desk or dining table helps young children avoid neck and shoulder issues. A simple foam lift, such as a Tot Riser, Bottoms Up cushion or Posture Wedge cushion can give kids the height and correct pelvic tilt to access their work and avoid strain.
Next add in some foot support to keep hips and knees level and help ‘ground’ your child.
Place a box or some books in front of the chair so that little feet don’t dangle. The optimal height is so that knees are level with hips (knees can be a fraction lower if a greater pelvic tilt is required to maintain the normal curve in the lower back).
For older kids, or anyone that may benefit from more sensory feedback while they are sitting, we highly recommend also using a flexible Pilates ball as a lumbar support in a rigid chair.
It is a great way to provide support and at the same time prevent kids from slouching. Home learning requires concentration and having some sensory input can be really advantageous for wriggly kids who have a hard time sitting still.
Increased screen time is also something that is difficult to avoid at the moment. Having a tablet set up on a stand or leaning against something stable instead of flat on a table top helps avoid kids dropping their heads forward and creating neck strain and headaches.
And in a throw back to their baby days, some ‘tummy time’ is another way to create some extension and strength in the back of kids’ necks and upper backs while they are required to spend time watching their device (limit this to 10 minute blocks).
TAKE A BREAK & STAY HYDRATED!!!
Every 30-40 minutes or after a lesson encourage children to stand, stretch and self massage. We’ve got some suggestions for you below. Stretches need to be comfortable and performed repeatedly as breaks throughout the day. A water bottle on the desk and regular drink breaks will ensure muscles (and minds) stay hydrated. An opening out stretching routine after prolonged sitting…
Postural Strength Exercises – such as the Prone alternate arm and leg raise, Shoulder blade squeeze and Chest Raise all help to strengthen our back muscles to help stop our shoulders from rolling forward and our back from rounding out.
Self massage with a small spiky ball for sore shoulder and upper back muscles is also helpful to relieve tension.
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