With more time spent working from home, attending school from home, or exercising at home, chances are you’ve heard about “core strength.”
Our “core” is the middle portion of our body – think: our abdominal muscles, back muscles, and pelvic muscles.
It’s important for us to maintain appropriate strength in our core – that goes for kids, too! This is because these muscles stabilize us while we are in different positions, such as when we sit, stand, or crawl.
A child’s “core muscles” are very important for development, because these muscles hold up their posture. In order to move about the world, manipulate toys and objects in their environment, keep them from falling, and even eat more efficiently, a child core strength plays an important role.
There is a phrase “core stability promotes distal mobility”, which means that having a strong core to stabilize us in different positions, allows us to focus more on the movements of our other smaller and more precise muscles of our body.
For example, if a child has decreased core strength, they may have difficulty holding themselves up in a sitting position. This may affect how efficiently they eat. They may be so focused on keeping themselves still and upright in a chair, that the more precise movements of the hands, such as bringing a spoon to their mouth, become second priority.
Signs of weak core muscles can include:
- Sitting or standing in a slouched position
- Difficulty with balance activities
To strengthen your child’s core, you can:
- Place frequently used toys in different positions so they have to squat, side bend, or do trunk twists to retrieve the toys
- Bear crawl through pillow forts in your living room
- Play Tug-O-War
- Additional Core Strength ideas on OTPlan or in the Core Strengthening -Skills in a Box
Modify the above activities according to your child’s abilities. For more individualized activities, consult with your occupational therapist and pediatrician.