So many times, I am asked about some of the healthier habits that I have had on my kids over the years. Here is the "list of don’ts" because of the impact that these can have on their immediate and future health. My answers are not extremely detailed on why, so feel free to ask if you have any questions.
1. Don't "Pop" Your Own Neck/Back
This one is obvious. This eventually leads to the habits of move or twist the neck when it gets tight or stiff. This is a very bad habit to develop as it will lead to ligament laxity and arthritic conditions with wear and tear on the vertebra and a host of spinal misalignments.
2. Never Sit With Legs Of To The Side/With Hips Diagonal
This sitting with legs to the side or W position is not good. This trains the hip bones to be in abnormal position which created a misalignment effect on the sacrum/tailbone and lower back regions.
3. No Sleeping on The Stomach
Sleeping on your stomach forces your head to be turned for a long period. This position puts abnormal stress on the neck vertebra and muscles leading to pain, headaches and stiffness. To prove my point, just turn your head to the left or right and keep it there for 15 minutes. I guarantee after that period, you'll be a bit stiff and feel like you have a kink in the neck. Sleeping like that all night will set you up for a lot of neck problems.
4. Playing Football
This is a tough one. As I grew up with a life of football (and my father was a Football Coach). With the overall increased size, strength and speed of kids today, youth football has become more dangerous with much higher levels of impact. Full disclosure here, my son does play football. Due to a very disciplined weightlifting program, good nutrition and healthy eating habits my son is very strong and has a generous amount of muscle to protect his body. But even with his great physical condition football can still be dangerous and is not something I encourage. Which leads to my other cardinal rule of sports participation, two concussions and you are out of that sport. Period.
5. Have Head Down Looking at a Screen (Texting, Playing with Game Systems, iPad etc.)
You already know this one...The kids will eventually have "Text Neck Syndrome" (yes...it is a medical diagnosis). Dr.Kapandji in Physiology of the Joints Vol 3, stated that for every inch of forward head posture, it increases the weight of the head on the spine by an additional 10 pounds. This of course will lead to extra strain on the neck and WILL cause headaches, neck pain and stiffness. Limiting this activity to no more than 1 hour a day, along with postural corrective exercises will help along with regular neck adjustments.
6. Lying Down With Your Head Propped Up on Side of Couch
I get it. This may be comfortable in the beginning, but lying on your side with your head propped up is a bad position and that your head is not meant to be positioned. This will lead to a kink in your neck and restricted movement, especially when you fall asleep and get "Couched Neck Syndrome" (I made this one up).
7. Wearing a Backpack on Their Back With Only One Strap/Carrying a Backpack That is Too Heavy
When your child carries their back pack on one shoulder instead of using both straps to carry it on both shoulders, it causes them to put their bodies in an unnatural position that leads to spinal problems. When carrying a back pack on one side, they will compensate by bringing the opposite shoulder causing a tweak in the middle back. This tweak will lead to shifts/misalignments and curvatures in the spinal vertebra. The same concept applies when the backpack is too heavy, pulling the child back with its weight. This child will lean forward to compensate causing unnatural compression on the spine.
8. Limit Sugar, White Flour and Artificial Sweeteners and Colors
It is very difficult to monitor and control what your kids eat outside the house/school. But every little bit counts and can affect their overall health, immunity, digestion and especially attitude. I have brought my kids up with very limited amounts of sugar, no white bread (only whole wheat) and sparse amount of dyes and colors. Kids need healthy, fresh food, unprocessed unpackaged meals. Occasional consumption is fine, but overtime these can cause many problems with health, attitude and maintaining normal energy levels.
So, really, why are these 8 things such a big deal? One of our main jobs as parents is to keep our kid’s safe, right?
Well, I believe that should include consistently making sure that they develop good habits now, so they can be healthy adults. That's why we have them brush their teeth every day. So, they don't have rotten teeth as adults. The same is true for these tips. If you want your kids to grow up healthy. these tips will help them along in the journey. I've always said, "it is easier to build your child's health rather than repair an adult."
Of course, doing these 8 things alone will not create an adult with no problems. They still should be adjusted regularly (my boys get Chiropractic adjustments every 1-2 weeks), go to their dentist, exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes a day and get proper sleep and so on...