Helping kids of all ages to live a more active life through FUNctional movement.
By Michele Delfino, Registered Physiotherapist
In pediatric physiotherapy we often see children with abnormal walking patterns (pigeon toed, out toed, or toe walking to name a few), poor posture, decreased endurance, difficulties keeping up with their peers, poor reading/writing skills, and difficulties sitting still. These are just some of the consequences of a weak core.
It is common to start treatment for kids with abnormal gait patterns by focusing on their leg strength or by using orthotics to correct their walking pattern. Although this can sometimes be the correct choice, we often have to look further to find what is truly at the core of the issue (pun intended)
Healthcare professionals and parents are often more concerned with making sure children develop arm and leg muscles so they can walk, run and play. The importance of a strong core is often forgotten/overlooked. Scroll down to the bottom of this article and try some of the suggested core activities with your child to make sure theirs isn’t being overlooked.
A strong core is essential in maintaining posture, balance, coordination and attention. All movements require a good strong core! Do not confuse core strength with having a “6 pack”. Core strength refers to the equitable development of the muscles in your abdomen, pelvis, lower back and diaphragm. It is the ability of all these muscles to work together properly that enable us to stabilize our bodies during tasks.
Strong cores are also the building blocks for developing gross motor skills and fine motor skills. This means the core is also essential in handwriting and eye tracking (who knew?). Maintaining a stable base enables the coordination of the arms, legs and eyes. We cannot have mobility without first developing stability! (Physios always use the adage: “stability before mobility”.)
Bouncing: on trampolines or while sitting on a therapy ball engages all the core muscles
Animal walks: have your child crawl on hands and feet like a bear, crab walk, crawl like a dog, or pretend to be other animals; make sure they aren’t holding their breath!
Deep breathing with a forced exhale: Have your child inhale fully into their tummy and exhale forcefully through a straw or blow a pinwheel
Soft play on an unstable surface: engages their core muscles automatically
Gym Ball: simply sitting on a large exercise ball and maintaining an upright posture
Swinging at the park: encourage them to swing themselves