Adolescence represents an important period of growth in terms of structural and postural developments as the body undergoes significant transformations to mark the beginning of the transition to adulthood.
Analysing postural disparities among adolescents involves setting well-defined standards of structural changes which can also be utilised to gain a better understanding of alterations in body dimensions that occur during the course of growth.
This would include identifying risk factors that could potentially increase a child’s predisposition to postural defects such as stunted physical or motor abilities, back pain or severe spinal deformities.
A comprehensive study conducted by Latalski et al. aimed to determine these risk factors in 380 adolescents from schools in eastern Poland and the Czech Republic.
The authors prepared a survey based on a self-designed auditory questionnaire to evaluate demographic and social data, as well as information regarding habits and ways of spending leisure time by the child.
Obesity-related modifications to lifestyle such as a reduction in physical activity or an inability to cope in sports lead to a decrease in overall fitness levels which can result in the development of postural irregularities in an older child.
This was further proved in a study by Maciałczyk-Paprocka et al. that involved postural assessment of 2732 children and adolescents (aged 3-18) and showed a higher prevalence of postural defects in obese children than those with normal body mass and overweight children.
The most frequently observed postural errors in this population were valgus knees and flat feet; the latter is attributed to excessive joint laxity and obesity which increase tensile strength.
The knee axis undergoes changes during growth; obesity increases the loading of distal femoral and proximal tibial growth cartilages resulting in a higher prevalence of the valgus knee.
Marta Motow-Czyz, from the Institute of Physical Education and Tourism at Jan Dlugosz University in Poland, lists the many benefits of physical exercise as stabilisation of joints, strengthening of tendon and ligament attachment, increase in volume of muscle fibres and enhanced muscle strength.
All these are necessary for the prevention of postural inefficiencies and must be integrated into the education system of older children in an effort to promote healthy lifestyles and the development of optimal body proportions.
In addition to this, habitual patterns of adolescents such as standing stance while using a smartphone or sitting posture while watching television for long hours need to be addressed to inculcate positive behaviour that would not hinder normal structural growth.
MASS4D® customised foot orthotics can be implemented as a prophylactic measure to protect the adolescent from functional disorders resulting from biomechanical complications such as a hyperpronated foot that could ultimately affect the overall posture of the child.
This can be determined only through an extensive gait analysis to spot any biomechanical discrepancy and to identify the source from where it originates; this would enable the clinician to gain as much information about the abnormality as possible and to accordingly recommend suitable forms of treatment for the child.
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