Core Strengthening- What is it and Why does it matter?
Firstly, Core Strengthening is related to the muscles in the core, centre of the body that relate to posture, centre of gravity and movement. The muscles in action when using your core include, abdominal muscles, back muscles, and pelvis.
These muscles matter greatly to us, as we depend on these in a lot of daily activities that at times we do not realise.
Why do children have low muscle strength or weak core muscles?
Through my experience it is becoming clear that a lot more children are showing low muscle tone and strength in their core. This shows through children having difficulty in seated table top activities, such as handwriting, eating dinner at the table and even through playing games seated in the floor.
This can be due to a range of reasons and is important to think about:
Low physically activity during the day time, relating to increase in use of technology and screen-time
Muscular growth difficulties
Strategies to increase Core Strength:
As many challenges which can occur in our developing children there are strategies in which you can add to their daily routine to increase Core Strength
Add activities to your existing routine, such as while your child engages in dressing can they perform a few core strength exercises. Adding exercises to your routine ensures you do it daily, remember and also to try not to add something extra for you to do daily.
Ensure your child is calm and has regular breathing patterns before doing these exercises.
Bridging- Lying on your back, with knees bent and feet flat to the floor, have them push up through their heels to raise their bottom. How long can they hold this for? Can you do it with them to motivate them? Engage the whole family for motivation and encouragement. Change it – Add a teddy between your child’s knees to squeeze, move soft toys through the bridge under your child (Don`t squish the ‘teddy’!).
Superman- Lying on their tummy, and try to lift their arms, upper chest and head up from the floor. This increases back muscles. Change it- Can they lift their legs too? Can they hold a ball/teddy in their hands and lift it up? Engage them in reaching for stickers or post it notes from the lower wall to have them reach upwards!
1) Have your child lye on their tummy on the therapy ball and pull themselves along the ground, keeping their feet on the ball. Change it- Add an object, goal or spot for them to get to, increase this over time. This works on abdominal and pelvic muscles.
2) Have your child lye on their back on the therapy ball adult, hold their hands and see if they can push from their legs. Change it- See if they can balance themselves on the ball and reach up for your hands.
Enjoy practicing and working on Core Strengthening exercises with your children or children you care for. If you have any queries or comments please contact Connecting Together, also look into out coordination package offering therapy across a range of gross motor skills, balance, aiming, throwing, core strength and catching.
Question- Would anyone like to share exercises or strategies for increasing core strength in children?
Poroporoaki hoki inaianei,
Melissa Walker-Tate (Occupational Therapist).
Connecting Together Ltd.