Published on – 3 minute read
Let’s start at the beginning. In their early days of learning new and wonderful things, babies are blank canvases and often develop the strength and balance to sit by themselves. Have you ever noticed a baby sitting upright on the floor? This is not instilled in their minds. The baby will evaluate how to sit comfortably within the environment they are in. Otherwise, they become restless and look to move on, usually by getting their parents attention to pick them up. As they grow and develop, they can move themselves by either crawling or walking away.
As toddlers or young children, we start to be introduced to seating at places like home, the nursery, and school. When observing children sitting, we often see them perched on the edge of the seat with their knees below their hips. This is intuitive and comes naturally to them, and we believe that this sitting position should be encouraged.
Some of the seats they encounter might be too big or are static chairs that don’t allow them to preserve vitality, movement, and spinal health. The more they are exposed to static chairs, the more the child will start to hold on to those bad habits* when sitting and most likely will take those bad habits into adulthood.
Let us share with you how to keep those bad habits at bay and encourage their youthful, healthy spines.
MOVEMENT! We know it sounds simple enough.
The more movement, the better**. This is also known as active sitting.
But solving this problem goes beyond adding exercise and poking your childrens spines to make them sit up straight. Furniture matters and can make a huge difference, Andrew Wilson who is an experienced osteopath and ergonomic expert and author of Are You Sitting Comfortably? says:
'The remedies are simple: better designed furniture can produce a dramatic improvement in posture. We have little control over the type of furniture our young people have to use in schools, colleges and universities, but we are able to provide them with good-quality furniture at home. This will enable them to study more effectively, to concentrate better and help them to fulfil their potential.'
For many years we have been working with Peter Opsvik, one of the most groundbreaking children's and adult furniture designers. Opsvik is a deep thinker and realised the not only were rates of back pain getting worse at all ages, but that no one could agree on how to solve it.
When I first started designing chairs, professors and ergonomists knew exactly how you should sit [and many disagreed] — which angles were best and which were the most important. My contribution was that I said they were all right. I made seating furniture that inspired [the sitter] to alternate between these positions. And there you have your conclusion... : The best seating position is, after a while, always the next.
So next we will take a look at some of the products Opsvik designed, that are there to support variety and your child's movement, rather than restricting movement:
The Varier Variable is a great, durable homework chair for children from the age of 7 up to adulthood. The Variable has been sold in thousands, and it provides movement and encourages active sitting while you work at the desk.
As Peter Opsvik the designer of many great chairs including the Variable said '' When we are allowed to move, we move.''
When used correctly, there is little and often no pressure on the knees, and most people's initial reaction to sitting in a Variable for the first time is that they feel lighter, freer, more balanced, and more alert. Children often outgrow most things.
This is not the case with the Variable. I’m sure you are wondering how a chair can cater for an adult as well as a 7-year-old (or someone below 5’ 2’’). The answer is to add Distance Blocks. This helps by raising the knee pads. This also allows for the knee pads to be attached a little closer together to reduce the distance between the two knee pads. As the child grows, the distance blocks can be removed.
The Move Compact can be used to perch on or sit, and with its unique concave base, it still allows great movement. It also allows children and people of all ages to move effortlessly and constantly. This means they experience extra vitality when using the Move Compact. Move Compact lets the body move fully through 360 degrees. The disc base is curved, allowing the Move Compact to follow your body's differing positions. For younger children, the Move Compact will allow them to reach an ordinary desk or table height. The Move Compact can be used by all the family too!
The Variable Plus is based on the iconic Variable mentioned above, one of the greatest chairs ever designed. The Variable Plus encompasses Backinaction's three core essentials of healthy sitting: Movement, Balance, and Forward Tilt.
The Variable Plus was designed by the fantastic Norwegian designer Peter Opsvik. "the next position will always be the best'' - Peter Opsvik.
Moment by moment, without the need to adjust any lever, the integrated backrest on the Variable Plus allows users to have time to reflect. This may be more useful in a child’s advanced education stage, when they may need to attend remote lectures and their time at the desk increases.
An absolute favourite with our adult customers is the Actulum. This can suit teenagers in later stages of school, like Sixth form, university, or adults. One of the qualities of the Actulum is that it allows you to sit like you would on a Variable or Variable Plus, but without the knee pads.
Such a versatile chair that can fit in any home
Would children benefit from an ergonomic chair? Absolutely!
Prevention is always better than the cure. Let's all hope for more healthy spines for our children.
* Are you sitting comfortably? - Andrew Wilson. Page 122 - 128
** Movement is medicine - https://www.england.nhs.uk/blog/movement-is-medicine/