EXERCISE AND QUALITY OF LIFE
Volume 6, No. 1, 2014, 1-6
THE IMPORTANCE OF POSTURAL STATUS FOR THE
HEALTH OF CHILDREN AND YOUTH
Branka Protić - Gava
Faculty of Sport and Physical Education - University of Novi Sad
Postural disorders occur not just among school children but also among preschoolers, the
fact which coincides with critical periods of growth and development that are characteristic for
the occurrence of the mentioned disorders. They can be located on all the segments along the spi-
nal column, torso and lower limbs. Good body posture is of great importance for healthy growing
of the youngest while poor postural status harmfully influences locomotor system, circulation, as
well as respiratory and digestive system. Inadequate position while sitting, standing and walking
(as the result of muscular disbalance) causes pain in cervical, thoracic and lumbar part of the spi-
nal column, which later influences the overall quality of life. Surveys and numerous researches of
the locomotor system are all aimed at finding the most adequate system of preventive and correc-
tive activities with an emphasis on timely diagnostic of changes.
postural status, body posture, health, importance, children and youth
The occurrence of postural disorders as well as finding relationships among them and pos-
sible causes of their development raises interest of health workers and physical education teach-
ers. Older researches indicated more frequent occurrences of postural disorders among school
children. However, newer researches alarm us of more frequent occurrences of poor posture even
among preschoolers (Sabo, 2006).
Postural disorders of locomotor system among school children and preschoolers, which
have not been recognized and treated in a timely manner, can develop into body deformations that
are later difficult to treat (Protić - Gava et al., 2010). That is why it is highly recommended for
children to start practising well-designed and professionally-leaded physical activities at an ear-
* Corresponding author. Faculty of Sport and Physical Education, University of Novi Sad, Lovćenska 16, 21000 Novi
Sad, Serbia, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
© 2014 Faculty of Sport and Physical Education, University of Novi Sad, Serbia
Branka Protić - Gava
The results of researches regarding the occurrence of postural disorders indicate more fre-
quent occurrence of multiple deviations in musculoskeletal system among young-school age chil-
dren (Protić - Gava et al., 2009a). However, the positive thing is that most of them are on the level
of functional stadium which has not yet reached the level of structural changes.
The term posture refers to the position of body (Đorđić, 2007) which represents relative
position of body segments during rest or during some activity (Demeši-Drljan and Mikov, 2012).
Good postural status is conditioned by good muscular-skeleton balance that protects certain struc-
tures from injuries and occurrences of progressive deformations (Pavlović, 2009) reagrdless of the
position of body (Aleksić-Veljković and Stanković, 2010).
Muscles, which represent the active part of movement apparatus, have the most significant
role in the creation and preservation of regular posture. Together with ligament apparatus and ar-
ticulation system, they confront gravity both during movement and rest (Pavlović, 2009). If the
balance is dislocated (in these cases muscles suffer mostly), good body posture suffers as well
(Koturović and Jeričević, 1996).
Good and regular relations between all the segments in a body contribute to well-balanced
and uninterrupted functioning, and as such result in good body posture. Consequently, good body
posture causes muscles to function at their best (Aleksić-Veljković and Stanković, 2010), thus pro-
viding optimal position for abdominal and thoracic organs (Pavlović, 2009).
Upright and relaxed posture is characterized by body weight well-balanced on both legs
and adequate muscle tension to suppress gravity, while at the same time energy consumption is in-
significant. If vertical that goes from common centre of all the segments that burden the articula-
tion goes closer to the centre of that articulation, muscle strain is smaller (Đorđić, 2007).
Physiological curves of the spinal columns stabilize around the 18
month of age or even
later, while the curves range between 20º and 35º in thoracic and 15º and 30º in lumbar part
(Radisavljević, 2001). Spinal column is curveless in frontal plane (10º deviance is tolerable) and
should be without any rotation (Đorđić, 2007). Bone, ligament and muscle structures in a foot
play a significant role in the creation and preservation of foot arch (Đorđić, 2007; Radisavljević,
2001). The height of longitudinal arches is determined by the shape of bones and ligament strength
(Jovičić, 2007). Deterioration of this unique functional composition of active and passive tensors
causes changes in the shape, position and function of a foot (Radisavljević, 2001). Causes of de-
formations can be of different etiology, but what all of them have in common is disbalance of foot
muscles (Lee & Sucato, 2008).
Growth and development of any child follows the same rhythmic pattern which is marked
by certain so-called “growth crises” (Kosinac, 2006). The first and second year of life represent the
years when children experience intensive growth and as such these years are referred to as the first
critical period when rapid motor growth happens (upright position). In their seventh year of age
(second critical period) when they start school, children are exposed to more physical challeng-
es (carrying heavy school bag, sitting for longer period of time). Third critical period is the age of
puberty when children experience rapid growth. This period is followed by intensive secretion of
reproductive glands and closure of certain cartilago epiphysialis of long skeleton bones (Demeši-
Drljan and Mikov, 2012).
One of the primary preconditions for the occurrence of poor body posture, which is con-
sequently followed by disorders along the spinal column, is lack of movement. School environ-
The importance of postural status for the health of children and youth
ment represent a “fertile ground” for the occurence and development of certain postural disorders
(Medojević and Jakšić, 2007). In order to prove their claim that children who start school have
much less physical activity than younger children, these authors cite Vuković (1999) who claims
that children who start school have 50 % less physical activity than preschoolers. Đorđić (2007)
quotes Cardon (2004) who says that children spend 97 % of their school time sitting.
Weakness and inadequate development of musculoskeletal system are caused by lack or
smaller number of physical activities which than results in the development of poor postural hab-
its among the youngest (Demeši-Drljan and Mikov, 2012). Repeated and long-lasting activities ef-
fecting the spinal column in certain positions create poor habits regarding body posture. The re-
sult is the occurrence of many different forms of postural disorders. Tired muscular system finds
the best position to rest in the shortest time possible. However, due to disbalance it experiences,
it causes inadequate postural status (Medojević and Jakšić, 2007). What follows is the shortening
or weakening of a certain muscular system which then causes muscle disbalance that represents
the main cause of the occurrence and development of body deformations (Đokić and Stojanović,
2010). After primary changes on muscles, changes on ligament apparatus and then on skeleton also
occur, which means that poor body posture actually represents the first phase of certain deforma-
Obesity also represents a base for the development of certain deformations among chil-
dren, especially for the occurrence and development of lower limbs deformations - “X” shape legs
(Paušić, 2007) and flat feet (Protić-Gava, Krneta and Romanov, 2011).
Cooperation - parents, teachers, doctors - key to
success in the prevention of postural disorders
Cooperation between health facilities, preschool and school institutions, sport clubs and
family is of great importance in the school education system, where the main task is to teach youth
about the importance of good body posture for their health and overall quality of life. Physical ed-
ucation teachers in educational and sport institutions can contribute significantly when the recog-
nition of postural disorders, the prevention of poor body posture and mild forms of body deforma-
tions are in question. The role of family in raising consciousness regarding healthy life habits and
the importance of organized forms of physical activities is of great significance for the prevention
of any kind of disorder. Basic information and knowledge of the development of disorders and de-
formations can contribute to their prevention.
Continuous, adequately chosen, and controlled physical activity represents an efficient
tool that can influence growth and development of children as well as the creation and pres-
ervation of body status. In this sense, parents have great responsibility to motivate and encourage
their children to take part in different forms of physical activities. Adequate and precisely planned
physical activity positively influences the process of development, corrects postural disorders and
deformations and develops positive motor skills (Grabara & Hadzik, 2009a, prema Krneta, Protić-
Gava, Vuković and Šćepanović, 2012).
Since parents and physical education teachers are those who children spend most of their
time with and who follow children’s growth and development, they are the ones who, if they rec-
ognize any type of postural disorder, should react and initiate treatment.
Branka Protić - Gava
Instead of conclusion
The task of physical education teachers is to influence the adoption of good body posture as
well as to recognize functional changes of the postural status and foot status while medical facili-
ties should be in charge of diagnostics and treatment of structural changes (deformations).
The importance of timely recognition of postural disorders results in a smaller number of
children with poor body posture. Starting to teach children different forms of physical activities
at an early age has preventive and corrective effects on growth and development, especially in the
critical periods of growth.
Having in mind the etiology of the occurrences of postural disorders and basic principles
of preventive work, application of adequate techniques can prevent further progression of already
existing disorders and enable complete recovery. Adequate choice of physical activities can make
growth and development easier by improving the immunity, correcting postural disorders and
developing positive motor skills. Integration of compensative activities in everyday teaching of
physical education can greatly help and influence the creation of good body posture.
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