A strong core is essential for co – ordinated, balanced activities using both sides of the body. The core is made up of the muscles at the front, back and sides of the trunk. We need these muscles to work well together to provide trunk stability so that we can maintain a good posture and use our hands and legs effectively.
The abdominal and other muscles at the front of the body and shoulders are called flexors. The muscles at the back are called extensors and then we have rotators at the side. Extensor muscles are typically weaker than flexor muscles. We need strong extensor muscles to be able to sit up straight, to walk and to hold our head up. They start developing when we learn how to lift our heads up against gravity and this is one of the reasons why tummy time is SOOOO important for babies!
Many children have weak core muscles and this could be because of a number of reasons:
- Not enough tummy time as a baby
- Developmental delays
- Cerebral palsy or another condition that affects their muscles
- More time being inactive and sitting rather than doing physical activity e.g. sitting doing school work and playing computer games vs playing outside or doing sports
Fortunately, there are lots of easy ways to work on increasing your child’s core strength:
- Playing on their tummy
- Superman (lying on tummy and lifting up arms and legs)
- Wheelbarrow (hold at hips or knees to make it easier and then move to feet once stronger)
- Rolling over a ball and reaching arms up high to ‘fly’ before landing their hands down on the floor in front of them
- Get your child to stay still in sitting, kneeling, half – kneeling or a crawling position while you try and ‘push’ them over. Make sure they can’t hurt themselves if they fall! Push in different places so they work different muscles
- The plank
- Swimming (that’s a bonus #8!)
(Anything that encourages your child to use her/his core muscles – back, stomach and shoulder)
Any q’s or comments I’d love to hear them. Also, I’ll be adding specific exercises and activities as the blog grows so sign up if you’d like to get new stuff straight to your email.