Core strength, it’s something that we associate with a six pack (and maybe Channing Tatum’s abs?)
But, did you know that core strength is just as important for kids as it is a gym junkie?
The core muscles are quite a complex group of muscles. Spanning far beyond your abs, and being such a large network of muscles, the core is involved in almost every movement of the human body.
Not only does the core initiate movement, it primarily works as a stabiliser and hence this is why a strong core is the basis for many of the fine and gross motor activities that we expect of our children.
Development of the core muscles begins early in life.
Tummy time in infancy allows your baby to develop the neck and back muscles essential for lifting the head. This then forms the foundations for future developmental milestones such as rolling, crawling and sitting. Tummy time shouldn’t end in the early years though! Lying on your tummy to complete puzzles, read books or draw pictures is a great way to strengthen the back extensor muscles.
As the child develops, and in turn the skills expected of them increase, core muscles become exceptionally important. Without sufficient core control it is difficult for children to balance, coordinate movements, sit in a chair at a desk or on the mat, develop mature pencil grasp and additional fine motor skills such as cutting, typing and drawing.
Indicators of poor core strength include “W sitting”, wrapping the ankles around the base of the chair, flopping over furniture and overall delayed motor skills development.
Fatigue can also be attributed to poor core strength, so next time you are dragging the kids around the shopping centre, think about how hard those core muscles are working to keep that little body going!
So, if you’re thinking that maybe your child might be struggling to sit for long periods of time, is having considerable difficulties with developing a mature pencil grasp or has yet to master the art of riding their bikes without training wheels, what can you do?
Firstly, try some of these great core strength activities:
● Learning how to swing independently
● Animal walks – trying walking like a crab, bear, crawling like a lizard or jumping like a frog
● Get the exercise ball out and bounce away!
● Crawling – one of the first activities a child learns to do and one of the best ways to not only develops core strength but shoulder stability too!
● Test out all of the playgrounds in your local area, climbing ladders are great!
● Bike riding, an activity the whole family can enjoy
● Swimming – working on using both sides of the body at once and having fun while doing it!
If you’re still worried that your child doesn’t have the core strength they need to play, learn and self-care then an assessment by an Occupational Therapist may be beneficial.
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