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
- Lower extremity strengthening
- Coordination/motor planning
- Motor control
What You Will Need: All you need is a kid, some stuffed animals, small toys, and bubbles.
What To Do: Have your little one fly like the superhero and strengthen his back! Have him lay on his stomach on the floor and try to lift his arms up off of the floor, so that his upper chest comes up, too.
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:
- Can your child lift the legs? How about arms and legs at the same time?
- Can your child hold a ball between the hands or feet while lifting up?
- Place a stuffed animal on the child’s back and see if your child can complete this exercise with enough control to keep the animal from falling.
- Make it fun by having the child reach up for you to hand him pieces of a puzzle, place stickers on the wall, or pop bubbles blown just above and in front of his head.
- Make it even more fun by trying it on a swing or a large exercise ball.
If your child has difficulty doing this task with the stomach on the floor, roll up a towel or small blanket and place it under the upper chest to assist with lifting, or move your child to a sofa and have the child lift the head and arms, while the upper chest is positioned on a soft arm rest. Be sure to monitor the activity, so your child won’t fall off!
ChoosePT.com also offers a collection of Activities to Promote Developmental Skills in Children.