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 strengthening
- Coordination/motor planning
- Arm and upper body strengthening
- Overall strengthening
What You Will Need: All you need is a kid (maybe two), and some tennis balls.
What to Do: Have your child lay on the stomach while on the floor with hands flat on the floor at shoulder level, and toes on the floor. On the count of 3, have your child push up on the hands to straighten the arms and lift the whole body all the way to the toes, off of the floor.
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:
- Have your child hold the plank position on the forearms with the elbows at 90°, instead of the hands. If holding the whole body off of the floor is too much, try dropping the knees to the floor for support.
- While in that position, have your child lift an arm straight out in front and hold. How about an opposite arm and leg?
- Can your child hold it long enough for another child to creep underneath, or for 3 balls to roll under?
ChoosePT.com also offers a collection of Activities to Promote Developmental Skills in Children.