Core Strength

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Why core strength is important for kids

Did you know that core strength is important for your child's performance in the classroom?

Without a stable core, your child may struggle to sit still at a desk and to carry out fine motor tasks. This in turn may affect concentration and the quality of written work.

Why Is A Strong Core Important?

The core muscles are the many different muscles in the abdomen and back that work together to support your spine and hold you upright.

The muscles around the shoulder girdle and the hips also form part of the core.

child sitting posture

These core muscles help to stabilise the body so that your arms can work effectively.

Imagine trying to paint a wall while dangling from a rope or working on a wobbly stepladder. The paint will go everywhere and it will be really hard to get the paint to land on the right spot.

Just as you need your stepladder to be your stable base in order to paint effectively, your upper body needs a stable core in order to carry out your daily tasks with minimum effort and no strain on your body.

  • Good core strength and stability will help your child to maintain a good sitting posture at the desk, and will help develop a stable, supportive base for gross motor and fine motor movements.
  • In the long run, developing your child's core muscles will help your child to avoid the lower back pain with which so many adults are plagued.
  • If your child is already a keen athlete, strengthening the trunk muscles will enable your child to use the arms and legs more strongly, in a more coordinated way.
  • Good core strength will also have a positive impact on your child’s balance and improve the ability to sit well at a desk instead of slouching all over it!
  • Your child’s endurance of gross and fine motor tasks may also be better if the core muscles are strong.

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Does My Child Have Weak Core Muscles?

These are some signs that your child may be struggling with weak core muscles:

  • Instead of sitting upright, does your child tend to lie all over the desk, supporting the body weight on the arms and propping the head in a hand?
child poor sitting posture
  • Does your child hook his/her arms over the back of the chair, rock on the chair and generally drive you crazy with an inability to sit still in a chair?
  • Does your child prefer to lie down to watch TV instead of sitting upright, or prefer to lie down during mat work at school?
  • Does your child slouch against the nearest wall or table, instead of standing up straight?
  • Does your child struggle to balance while lifting one leg off the ground, or lose his/her balance easily during gross motor activities and sports?
  • Does your child have poor gross motor skills and general clumsiness?
  • Does your child avoid climbing on playground equipment and/or trees?

An assessment by a pediatric physical therapist or occupational therapist can help to identify and treat the underlying cause of the poor core stability, which may be low muscle tone, developmental delay, sensory processing disorder or a genetic disorder among other things. This page is not intended to diagnose or treat any disorder!

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Improving Your Child's Core Strength

Most children nowadays need some encouragment to get away from their screens and get active. Going to the park, playing outdoors, and engaging in gross motor games and sports are great ways to improve your child's endurance, strength and core stability.

abdominal exercises for kids

But sometimes our kids need some more specific, targeted activities to encourage optimum development of the core and shoulder girdle muscles. I have put together a few helpful tips and photographed activities on my website that you can easily do at home... check them out!

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› The Importance of Core Strength


K Au, M.; M Chan, W.; Lee, L.; MK Chen, T.; MW Chau, R.; and Pang, M. Core Stability Exercise Is As Effective As Task-Oriented Motor Training In Improving Motor Proficiency In Children With Developmental Coordination Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Study. Clinical Rehabilitation. 28(10) March 2014. (abstract only)

Oliver, G.; Stone, A.;  Weimar, W.; Lemak, L.; Washington, J.;  and Dougherty, C. Upper Extremity Muscle Activation during Bodyblade Exercises Following Six Weeks of Intervention Focusing on the Lumbopelvic-Hip Complex. Sports 2015, 3(3), 188-201; 3. 188-201.

Oliver, G.; Stone, A.; Plummer, H. (2010). Electromyographic Examination of Selected Muscle Activation During Isometric Core Exercises. Clin J Sport Med. 2010 Nov; 20(6):452-7. doi: 10.1097/JSM.0b013e3181f7b0ef.

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