Why Core Strength is Crucial for Kids

Why Core Strength is Crucial for Kids

By Ariana Gough – Paediatric Exercise Physiologist

‘Core Strength’ is one of those buzzwords I’m sure everyone has heard at least once in their lives and is usually associated with the idea of defined abs, Pilates, and yoga. One thing that might not be first on your mind when you think about this term is kids, but I’m here to tell you why it should be.

Picture this: a tree with a weak trunk. It might look okay for a while, but when the wind blows or a storm hits, it struggles to stand tall and ends up losing branches. Kids are a bit like those trees, and their core muscles are the trunks that keep them steady, help them move with confidence, and withstand whatever life throws their way.

So, why should you care about core strength for your little ones?

What is the Core?

Think of the core as the body’s command centre, it’s a stable base that allows for participation in life’s daily activities. The core is the same in a child as an adult – it’s made up of the diaphragm and pelvic floor, as well as abdominal and back muscles.

Core strength in kids is like their secret superpower, giving them the stability they need to conquer everyday adventures like walking, running, and jumping without stumbling, while also keeping them upright and balanced. It’s the key to good posture and helps them stay focused and comfortable whether they’re sitting at a desk or playing on the floor.

What Does Good Core Strength Look Like?

When kids have good core strength, they can sit comfortably for longer periods, allowing them to stay engaged in learning activities and conversations. But it goes beyond that – a strong core enables them to focus and concentrate on fine motor skills, like writing and drawing, while also supporting the development of gross motor skills needed for activities like running, jumping, and climbing. This stability extends to their social interactions, giving them the confidence to navigate new environments and make friends.

Plus, a strong core is essential for maintaining good posture, whether they’re sitting at the dinner table or playing on the playground. So, by investing in core strength early on, we’re not just helping our kids stay active and healthy; we’re setting them up for success in all aspects of life.

What Should You Be Looking Out For?

Poor core strength in children can significantly hinder a child’s gross motor development, as the core serves as the powerhouse from which movement originates. This weakness may manifest in decreased endurance, poor posture, coordination issues, balance difficulties, frequent falls, and compromised hand-eye coordination, ultimately impacting their ability to engage in physical activities and navigate the world with confidence.
Poor Core Strength can be seen as:

  • Fidgeting constantly
  • Slumping in their chair
  • Tiring easily
  • Difficulty sitting
  • Poor attention skills
  • Poor handwriting
  • Difficulty riding a bike
  • Struggles to pay attention in class
  • Difficulty eating meals
  • W sitting
  • Difficulty focusing on tasks
Simple Exercises You Can Do at Home to Strengthen the Core

Some of my favourite exercises to build core strength in children are:

  1. Inch worms – encourage your child to stand on their feet then bend at the hips and place their hands on the ground. They then walk their hands forward into a plank position, before walking their feet towards their hands and standing up. Remind them to keep their legs as straight as possible.
  2. Superman – get your child to lie down on their tummy and stretch their arms out in front of them and their legs straight behind them. Tell them to lift their arms off the ground as high as they can and fly like Superman!
  3. Twister – play a game of twister, this game is really good at developing core strength and endurance.
  4. Climbing – encouraging your child to climb on playground equipment is super beneficial in developing core strength.
  5. Pool Noodle Races in the Swimming Pool – start by getting your child seated on a pool noodle with legs either side of the noodle. Then encourage your child to hold on to the front of the noodle and move their legs to propel themselves.

When it comes to strengthening our children’s core, starting small is key. By gradually increasing the duration and intensity of core-focused activities as their endurance improves, we can help them build strength naturally and seamlessly. Remember, even small steps can lead to big gains in their overall health and well-being.

Ariana Gough
Paediatric Exercise Physiologist

 

Our Ocean Kids Health team are here to help you and your child thrive!