The Importance of Core Strength for Children
Core strengthening is essential for the progression of other developmental skills. The core muscles are the muscles in the abdomen, back, and pelvis, and are the center of control for everything the body does.
If your child doesn't have strong core muscles, balancing, performing coordinated movements on both sides of the body, jumping, sitting up straight in a chair, and performing arm and hand tasks like holding a pencil and controlling scissors will be difficult.
More and more kids are having difficulty with maintaining functional posture at home and in the classroom, which may be due to poor core strength. That decreased core strength commonly contributes to other postural and movement issues, and delayed motor skill development. An increase in the number of children with difficulty could be due to a number of reasons including:
- The rising trend of children being less physically active during the school day, as academic demands in the classroom become more intense.
- Kids becoming more interested in video games and television, than a game of tag in the backyard.
- An increase in the number of children with developmental delays.
The key to strengthening these muscles and making it fun for kids, is to make it like a game!
Skill areas addressed (See Glossary):
- Core strength
- Motor control
- Coordination/motor planning
What You Will Need: All you need is a kid, some stuffed animals, toy cars, and small bean bags.
What To Do: Have your child lay on his back with his knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Have him push hard through his heels to raise the bottom up off the floor. Be sure that he is keeping his head and shoulders on the ground (see photo above). Can he hold it?
Note: During these activities, always make sure that your child is breathing while completing exercises. Holding the breath allows a child to avoid using the crucial core muscles, and lessens oxygen flow throughout the body. A child who continues to hold his breath during exercising may be attempting to perform exercises that are too difficult.
How To Change It Up:
- Try holding for 10 seconds, then 15 seconds, etc.
- Try having the child lift and lower the bottom with control (slowly lifting up for a count of 3, and slowing lowering down for a count of 3).
- Put a stuffed animal between the child's knees, and have the child squeeze the knees together, while completing the bridging.
- For a BIG challenge, have your child place the feet on a pillow or small ball, and try to maintain stability while bridging.
- Zoom some cars underneath—how many cars can you get under the bridge before it falls?
- Find a few small, stuffed animals and walk them under the bridge—don't squish the bunny!
- Place a soft baby doll, stuffed animal, or bean bags across the lower abdomen, and ask your child to take the item up with the bridge.
ChoosePT.com also offers a collection of Activities for Children.