Schools, sports clubs and parents should all be doing more to halt the growing problems of bad posture in children, according to Abbots Langley osteopath Daren Fletcher.

He has seen an increase in the number of children coming to his clinic with posture-related health problems in the past five years - some of his patients are as young as seven.

And with the new school term starting tomorrow, he has warned that schools need to take more heed of advice on educating schoolchildren about every aspect of their education.

This includes the length of time sat at computers, how to sit and stand correctly, the use of correct footwear when doing sport and its impact on posture, as well as the right way to address injuries – by seeing a professional and not always assuming that rest alone will deal with a growing child’s physical needs.

He said: “Sports gear, particularly footwear, is overlooked for children. I was at an athletics ground one weekend and couldn't help looking at the kids’ footwear.

“One child was training in Converse trainers and another in unsuitable plimsoles. They were aged between seven and 11 years, and, as it is important for adults to have the right appropriate footwear, it is for children.

“Attention to this doesn’t only prevent injuries but also helps performance.”

He added that parents should also be aware of the length of time their children use sit at computer screens when they are at home – either for leisure or homework.

Daren, 37, said: “It’s a fact that there is an increasing number of young children having posture-related health problems.

“Therefore it’s important to look at the issues that start these problems. Postural habits start to be learnt at around the age of five, when children first start school.

“The problems I am seeing are neck, shoulder and anterior rib pain, breathing issues with restricted rib mobility and diaphragm tightness, and this can lead to altered gut function and digestive issues.”