2 Simple Tests to Check Your Child’s Posture

Many of us have heard the importance of good posture from our physiotherapists, doctors, or even grandmothers. It’s true, posture plays a vital role in preventing and managing neck and back pain and is a cornerstone of recovering from a wide variety of injuries.

What is Good Posture?

Posture is an often misunderstood concept—knowing that the best posture is dynamic is essential. What this means is we should be able to:

  • Move in and out of positions at will,
  • Stretch, and change from sitting to frequently standing throughout the day.

Any position held for extended periods, regardless of whether we hold ourselves like dancers or gorillas, can cause tightness and pain. After all, just as many (if not more!) dancers get back and neck pain compared to the general population.

It’s easy to forget how important good posture is for our kids. Prolonged poor postures in children have become even more prevalent over the last few years. Time spent sitting for long periods has increased, everything from playing video or computer games to watching TV. And let’s not forget about the significant increase in phone usage, which results in text neck – read more here.

A child’s regular sitting, standing, and walking postures can be a window into potential areas of weakness and muscle imbalance, which could contribute to potential injuries in the future.

Physiotherapist touching child's shoulders
Woman touching child's back and posture

How to Assess Good Posture in Your Child

We’ve outlined a few posture characteristics you can look for in your kids that might indicate imbalances.

These characteristics should typically be visible when your child is standing and indicate good posture:

  • Shoulders and hips are level, and the head is straight
  • Spaces between arms on each side are equal
  • Kneecaps are level and face straightforward
  • Feet are pointing slightly outward and are symmetrical on both sides

And from a side view:

  • Head is upright and not slumping forward; chin is parallel to the floor
  • Shoulders are not rounded forward and are in line with ears
  • Low back has a slightly forward curve but not so exaggerated that the stomach protrudes forward

In the next section, we talk about two quick and easy tests to help you assess your child’s posture at home.

2 Simple Self-Tests for Evaluating Posture

Here are two great tests you can do with your kids to assess their posture. You only need a wall for these tests; they’re quick and easy to perform.

Standing Wall Test for Child’s Posture

  • Have your child stand with feet 6 inches from the wall.
  • Head, shoulders, and buttocks should be touching the wall.
  • Using a hand, check the distance between your child’s low back and the wall and between their neck and the wall.

This position is best to evaluate the above “imbalance” characteristics. Also, when your child’s trunk is relaxed, they should have approximately a 1-inch gap between the neck or back and the wall.

The Snow Angel

  • Have your child stand with feet 6 inches from the wall.
  • Head, shoulders, and buttocks should be touching the wall.
  • Have them place their forearms flat against the wall with palms facing forward.
  • Have them try to raise both arms overhead (like making a snow angel) while keeping their forearms against the wall.

If they cannot raise their arms all the way overhead, this can indicate several things: shoulder, pectoral muscle and mid-back tightness, or even neural tension.

What Next?

If you discover some signs of imbalances from these tests, or if your child is complaining of pain or tightness, it may be worth seeing a physiotherapist to have an assessment done and to explore whether a home exercise program may help optimize your child’s body mechanics.

Are you looking for a skilled Physiotherapist in the Edmonton area? Please book an appointment with one of Innovation Physical Therapy’s experienced physiotherapists by calling one of our five clinics throughout Edmonton, including Riverbend, Belvedere, Namao, or our newest clinic in Southgate Mall.