Secret symptoms your child’s posture shows

August 10, 2022 by Chislehurst Chiropractic Clinic

Posture and the surprising symptoms that come with it

How many times in a school day do you suppose a child is told to sit up and pay attention? Stand up straight? Stop slouching? Or perhaps you’ve noticed as a parent that your child’s posture is not as good as it could be. Did you know that poor posture in young people can sometimes be related to lack of concentration, speech, reading and writing, and other issues?

There can be different causes of poor posture. Our kids spend a huge amount of time sitting with or without tech gadgets and while this can definitely affect posture, there can be more to it. Here are two elements that influence posture, and the issues that can come with it:

  • Primitive reflexes: Even if you have never heard of this termyou will probably be aware of one of most commonly recognised primitive reflexes called the ‘startle reflex’ where newborns throw their arms out wide in alarm at a sudden noise or movement. This and many other reflexes are all to do with brain and neurological tone to the muscle, which essentially is how well is the brain is communicating with the muscles. These primitive reflexes are designed to develop and mature specific parts of the brain and body.
  • Movement: Or rather, the lack of it. Growing bodies are designed to be dynamic, so when young people aren’t running, riding bikes, climbing and generally being active, it’s actually harder work for their bodies to stay healthy. Doing less is more stressful and every day builds into more and more of an issue.


These two factors can impair a child or teenager’s ability to function correctly, especially when they go back to school and sit at desks all day. Think about how much time they spend sitting in cars, sitting on sofas, sitting in school, sitting with tech – that’s lots of sedentary, slumpy time that kids are doing much more than we used to do, and it can create habits and patterns over time that show up in posture. Small things such as avoiding one-shoulder bags and choosing a backpack to distribute weight evenly across the shoulders, and using lockers to avoid lugging books around all day can be helpful.

How primitive reflexes contribute to posture and other problems

Babies are born with primitive reflexes which stimulate certain pathways to develop different parts of the brain. When these are not fully developed in the early years
they can be a contributing factor to poor posture. The problem may not be that your child is sedentary, it could be because these reflexes have not developed.

Those reflexes are stimulated by sensory and movement patterns as children grow. When each pathway has been sufficiently stimulated, it has done its job, and that reflex switches off naturally. However, if that pathway remains immature and hasn’t been stimulated enough in the right way, that part of the brain has never been fully hard-wired and your child may find it harder to process information in that portion of the brain. In some cases, this could mean that the postural muscles haven’t had ample stimulation to develop great tone and strength to hold themselves upright correctly.

This could result in a balance or coordination pathway to the brain being affected, a speech pathway, crawling and sitting up straight pathway, or maybe even a reading and writing pathway not being fully developed.

If these aren’t properly integrated, no matter how much your child tries, their brain will not be able to coordinate those postural muscles correctly. You may insist that your child sits up straight, but they will most likely struggle to make this correction without the reflexes being addressed directly.

Backpack: check! Primitive reflexes: checked?

At our clinic, we make sure that we are checking young people both structurally and for tension and imbalances in their muscles. We can test each of the primitive reflexes to see if they have been integrated properly, or if they are still active when they shouldn’t be.

Common symptoms with these postural pathways include a lack of concentration and inability to sit still (even up to the point of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder – ADHD), bed wetting in older kids, and clumsiness through lack of coordination in movement.

All of these issues can be improved. It is important to first understand your child as an individual and what they need because their brain and body are still growing.

Some kids come to us for periodic check-ups like going to the dentist, to clear any little misalignments, to make sure posture is developing in a beautiful way and to nip any imbalance in the bud. Some come when their parents have noticed patterns or problems with their posture.

Any time the body is operating differently from the way it’s designed to function, it has to work harder, like any structure. When a structure is having to work harder over an extended period of time, it gets tired, so it is more predisposed to straining, getting injured and other problems developing.

Good posture starts early. We can work with children of any age, it’s never too soon.  Spinal curves and muscle tone are developed in childhood so getting them set up correctly early gives them strong foundations. A child who is able to maintain good posture seamlessly becomes a teenager with good posture who becomes an adult with good posture.

Testing for a retained primitive reflex




This video demonstrates one of the tests that can be done to establish whether one of the primitive reflexes has not fully developed, and an exercise which will allow it to be properly integrated in the child’s body, then it can switch off.

Testimonial of the month

“I don’t know where I’d be if I hadn’t found Chislehurst Chiropractic. We took our twin boys to Tara when they were four months because they had colic and it was like a miracle, we slept that night for the first time. We brought Thomas back when he was older because he was having difficulties with speech, he would bang his head deliberately and he was falling down and hurting himself but not crying. It was like he didn’t know how to process his behaviour and feelings.”

“Tara explained that it was to do with primitive reflexes and she made an incredible difference with him. He stopped banging his head, his coordination got much better and his speech became amazing – chatting away all the time, reasoning and relaying information.”

“I think all parents should know about this. For instance, I didn’t realise why we need to do tummy time with babies – it’s really important for neurological development.”
Gemma Bussey

We hope you and your families enjoy an active summer break and return to the school term feeling fit, healthy and looking forward to the term ahead.

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