Activities to Strengthen Children’s Core Muscles

Having a strong core is important for children throughout their whole lives. The core muscles are the abdominal, pelvic, and back muscles that move, support and stabilize the trunk. Having a weak core can impact a child’s balance, coordination, gross motor skills, and fine motor skills. Signs that your child might have a weak core are clumsiness, w-sitting, sitting with a slouched posture, decreased activity tolerance, etc. Occupational therapists work with children to strengthen their core using many exercises, equipment, activities, and games. Below, we describe some tools and activities that occupational therapists will use during their sessions to strengthen a child’s core:

Therapy ball: A therapy ball is a great tool that an occupational therapist will use to increase core strength. The therapist can position your child on the ball in a variety of ways to target their core strength. For example, sitting on the ball or laying on their stomach.

Wheelbarrow walks: Wheelbarrow walks are a great activity to target strength and requires no equipment! The therapist will have your child place their hands on the floor and then hold them by the legs as they walk with their hands across the room. This is also a quick and easy activity to do with your child at home!

Climbing structure/slide: Most clinics will have a climbing structure, rock wall, or slide that the therapist can use to help increase your child’s core strength as they have to activate and engage their core muscles to climb and maintain seated on the slide while in motion. Bringing your child to the park is a fun way to help increase your child’s core strength.

Animal walks: Animals walks are a possible activity that the therapist will complete with your child to increase not only core strength but also coordination. Animal walks are an easy activity to incorporate into your daily routine that is also great for increasing strength. For example, you can have your child complete animal walks down the hallway from their bedroom to the bathroom to get some strength practice in!

Yoga Poses: Yoga poses are not only great for increasing strength but also great for balance and self-regulation. The therapist will have your child assume and maintain the positions for a certain amount of time and work towards increasing that number as their strength increases. Yoga poses are a great activity to complete with your child at home.

Different play positions: Positioning your child in different play positions is an efficient and simple way to increase your child’s core strength. For example, the therapist may have your child lay on their stomach or sit in tailor sit while completing games, puzzles, or playing with toys.

Swings: During occupational therapy sessions, therapists will use a variety of different swings and place your child in different positions to increase core strength and postural stability. For more information, click here to learn more about how swings are used within an occupational therapy session.

Scooter board: A scooter is another great tool to strengthen the core muscles. The therapist can have your child lay on their stomach on the scooter and use their arms to propel themselves. Having them try to keep their legs off the floor adds an additional challenge and helps to increase strength.

Bosu ball: An occupational therapist may use a Bosu ball to target your child’s core strength in a variety of ways. Having them sit or stand on the Bosu ball while engaged in activity creates a dynamic movement which engages the core to increase the core’s strength.

These are only some tools and activities that occupational therapists use during therapy sessions to help strengthen children’s core muscles. The therapist will also provide your family with strategies and activities on how to increase your child’s core strength at home.

If you have concerns that your child’s core strength and stability is impacting their ability to complete activities and daily routines, contact Chicago Occupational Therapy or call (773) 980-0300 to learn more about our services and how we can help your child flourish and grow.