What is core strength?
Core strength, or postural control, is the base and launching pad for everything that we do.
The body’s core, referring to the muscles in the abdomen, back and pelvis, is the foundation for children being able to maintain an upright sitting posture, control fine motor movements, such as handwriting, and participate in gross motor activities like school sport.
Signs of poor postural control include:
- Sitting on a chair in a slouched position
- Leaning over the table and propping the body up with hands when completing work
- Preferring to lie down during floor work
- Finding it challenging to control a pencil when writing
- Having difficulty balancing and playing on playground equipment
How can I develop my child’s core strength?
Simple and fun activities can be incorporated into your child’s day to build their core muscles and create a good base for fine motor and gross motor activities. Here are some simple ideas:
- Animal walks – your child can pretend to be a variety of animals whilst strengthening their core e.g. crab walks, bear crawls, frog jumps.
- Wheelbarrow walks– your child ‘walks’ on their hand and an adult holds their knees (easier) or ankles. Your child can see how far they can go, complete 10 steps forward then 10 steps backward, balance a toy on their back whilst walking or even complete a puzzle by wheelbarrow walking to retrieve pieces.
- Create an obstacle course which includes unstable surfaces (pillows), crawling under objects and climbing. To give the game purpose you could: time how fast they can go, set up unmatched socks or memory cards at the start and end so your child needs to find the pair.
- A simple way to develop postural control is to change your child’s position when completing activities e.g. lying on their stomach and propping their bodies up with their arms.
- Superman – your child lies on their tummy and lifts up their legs and arms at the same time so the thighs and chest leave the floor. Can they hold a ball or toy between their feet or hands?
- Plank positions – start lying on stomach and push up onto hands and feet. It is important to maintain a straight body position whilst holding this for as long as possible. If holding a full plank is too tricky your child can try dropping the knees to the floor or drop to their elbows with arms at 90 degrees.
- Climbing up a slide instead of sliding down.
- Participation in sporting activities such as swimming, gymnastics and martial arts can assist with developing postural control.
Lucy Taylor- Occupational Therapist