Sitting Still was Yesterday: Why Flexible Sitting is So Important for a Child’s Back
Just about all children await their first day at school with anticipation and impatience - after all the first school day is a very special day for them, a day on which they can feel proud and older. Little beginners look mostly forward to learning how to read, write and calculate in school. Yet there is something else they have to learn even though it cannot be found in any school curriculum: sitting for long hours. This is not an easy job for young schoolchildren. The Campaign for Healthier Backs - AGR e.V. - shows how schoolchildren sit correctly - and why it is so important to balance it with exercise.
Exercise is mandatory for the healthy development of the spine. Reality, however, is frequently far from it. Most children sit too much - at school, when doing their homework and often in their leisure time as well. Specialized chairs with the AGR seal of approval prove that sitting and exercising do not have to be a contradiction. Active sitting trains children’s backs and promotes their concentration skills. The chairs are best complemented by AGR-certified and variably adjustable desks. Exercise and sport in the child’s leisure time are essential as well.
Already in the lower grades most classes take place sitting down. Yet sitting has been found to be strenuous for anyone’s body - in particular for the back - in the long run. This applies even more to children because a child’s spine still has to grow and is often forced to take on an unnatural posture when sitting. In addition to that, children are not able to sit still and concentrate on a particular subject for a lengthy period of time. The younger a child is, the greater is his or her natural urge to move. This is also confirmed by Dr. Dieter Breithecker, the supervisor of the Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft für Haltungs- und Bewegungsförderung (German Federal Posture and Exercise Promotion Work Team): “Five-year-olds to nine-year-olds can sit still and focus on any subject for a maximum of five minutes, and even 13-year-olds to 18-year-olds only have an attention span of about 15 to 20 minutes.” In real life things are rather different, however. Afternoon lessons are perfectly normal even for primary school curricula. This makes it even more important that their chairs are suitable for children - and first and foremost that means one thing: that moving and sitting are not a contradiction.
Flexible Sitting Strengthens your Back
This is mainly achieved by movable elements built into the seat and backrest. This so-called ‘active’ or ‘flexible’ sitting has considerable effects: “The blood supply of the muscles and the brains is increased; the back is dynamically stressed and relieved; the child’s sense of well-being and ability to concentrate increase considerably,“ says Breithecker.
The concept of flexible sitting is not only significant for school but also for homework. If parents buy a new desk and the right chair on the occasion of their child’s first day at school, they should therefore look for the seal of approval awarded by the AGR (Campaign for Healthier Backs). This reputable seal is only awarded to selected products that have been assessed by an independent board of experts as being particularly back-friendly. In order to receive the seal, furniture for children, such as chairs and desks, have to meet numerous criteria. The most important aspect is that the furniture provides versatile adjustment options that let the furniture ‘grow’ with the child and be adjusted individually. This way the chair and desk can form a fully adjustable unit as well. The following concepts are ergonomic and suitable for children:
- The range of work seats offered by VS – Vereinigte Spezialmöbelfabriken (www.vs.de) provides AGR-certified chairs that come with a patented three-dimensional seesawing mechanism, lateral inclination and spring, thus allowing for flexible sitting. The manufacturer also produces desks that are adjustable in height and the inclination of the desktop and have therefore also received the AGR seal of approval;
- The solid children’s swivel chairs sold by the manufacturer moll Funktionsmöbel (www.moll-funktion.com) have a shock absorber, and the depth and height of the seat as well as the height of the backrest are adjustable. Desks with many options of modification and adjustment and the seal of approval issued by the AGR make the work area that is suitable for children complete;
- The desk chairs by Company Moizi (www.moizi.de), which feature slightly curved skids, support ‘dynamic’ sitting. A cushioning system also allows for lateral movements - this means constant training of the back muscles. A desk that grows with the child until adulthood because it provides options of extension and height adjustment rounds off a child’s desk area certified by AGR;
- Movable to the front and back, top and bottom and every side: This is what the Aktiv children’s swivel chair Swoppster by aeris (www.aeris.de), which was awarded the AGR seal of approval for its 3D sitting concept, can do. This chair makes sitting still a thing of the past - which has positive effects on the spine as well as on the child’s concentration skill.
Flexible Sitting in an Active Life
Active compensation for sitting is just as important as the right chair, as Dr. Breithecker emphasizes as well: “Unfortunately a lot of children don’t just sit in school or when doing their homework but also in their leisure time, for instance in front of the television, their play stations or computers. Yet exercise which has been integrated into their daily lives on a regular basis is essential for the healthy development of the spine.” It doesn’t matter whether they play with friends or do sports: When children enjoy exercising, their parents should definitely support that because moving around strengthens the back and allows the child’s spine to develop in a healthy way. See www.agr-ev.de for more information.
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