Helping kids of all ages to live a more active life through FUNctional movement.
ByMichele Delfino, Registered Physiotherapist
Does your child seem to constantly be on the move or just can’t sit still? Do they have trouble catching, reading and writing, and balancing? Although these problems can sometimes be multifactorial and difficult to understand, there is one thing that they all have in common: WEAK CORE MUSCLES.
Strong core muscles are necessary for good balance and postural control which acts as the foundation for movement and coordination of our limbs and our eyes. This solid foundation involves the diaphragm, pelvic floor, tummy muscles and back musculature (not the 6 pack abs you may think of when the word “core” is used). Core strength refers to the equitable development of all those muscles. They all need to work together properly to enable us to stabilize our body (including stabilizing our eyes) during tasks.
To better understand this concept, imagine the construction of a skyscraper. When there is a problem with the foundation (weakness in the core strength), the building would undoubtedly sway in the wind (troubles sitting still) or lean to one side (slouching on the desk) causing the rest of the building to be structurally unsound (causing challenges with high order skills like learning, reading and writing). I also like to use the example of reading and writing while standing on a wobble board! That is what it feels like for your child when they have a weak core. They spend lots of their energy trying to stay upright thus making it more of a challenge to read and write.
Core strengthening improves your child’s ability to sit still and feel their body thus allowing them to focus on eye tracking across a page because they have a more solid foundation for the eyes; it also improves balance so they can successfully use their hands for writing or other fine motor skills instead of propping themselves with their arms/hands.
Take a look at our previous blog post How To Spot & Help Fix Your Child’s Weak Core to learn about ways to build your child’s strength at home!
Many of the fine motor and reading challenges mentioned above are areas that Occupational Therapists tend to help with. HOWEVER, if there is weakness in the core (and shoulders), leaving this unaddressed will result in less success. That is why physiotherapy is a great starting point for most kids! It can help them have better outcomes and success during occupational therapy and other forms of therapy.