Exercises for Core Strength

What is Core Strength?

Core strength comes from the muscle group that control the front part of the belly, also known as the torso. Core strength helps the human body turn, reach, balance, stabilize, sit in a tall posture and use arms and hands for fine motor tasks. When a child has decreased core strength, lots of tasks can be difficult.  A child may struggle with:

  • Sitting with a tall upright posture  – on the floor and in a chair
  • Balance –  standing on an uneven surface (like a Bosu or therapy ball)
  • Fine motor activities –  may use their hands close to their body instead of reaching out/to the side of their body
  • Gross motor activities – endurance and performance for running, jumping, etc.

Having strong core strength, means having a strong foundation for all kinds of tasks!

How to Help Your Child Develop Core Strength

Core strength poses and movements are commonly used in therapy to strengthen the core.

How to Facilitate Introductory and Movement Poses

The following poses and movements can be used to help children develop core strength. When going through the poses and movements initially, model them for your child and help them move into them. As they continue to practice them, they will need less support as they remember them and as they get stronger. Here are some tips to facilitate the poses:

  • Provide support as needed (hold one of their hands, support them at the hips, help them hold their legs out) to hold the poses for 5-10 seconds depending on their ability.
  • These poses can be hard – provide lots of positive verbal praise (“you’re working so hard!” or “I like how you’re holding this cat pose”!) and take breaks!
  • Make the activity fun! Hold the poses and do the movements together, make fun sounds correlated to the poses (snake sounds for cobra pose!) and let the child pick the order of poses
  • Safety First! The goal of these poses and movements is to gain strength and have fun! Always make sure the child is not straining to hold the pose or movements and that they are moving in to, maintaining, and moving out of the poses in a safe way.  Always supervise a child when they are doing these poses and movements.

Introductory Poses

Superman Pose

Dead Bug Pose

Cobra Pose

Cat Cow

Bird Dog

Downward Dog

Tree Pose

Crescent Lunge

Walk Arms Out

Lying Upside-Down


Movement Poses

The following poses are a little more complex and require moving as well as holding poses.

Frog Jump

Bear Walk

Crab Walk

Caterpillar Crawl

Kangaroo Jump

Core strengthening poses and movements can be a fun way to develop core strength with your child. Remember to make sure the child is supervised and moving safely through each one.

For additional information please download Chicago Occupational Therapy’s book The Ultimate Mini Guide to Pediatric Exercises or Contact Chicago Occupational Therapy at (773) 980-0300 to learn more about our services and how we can help your child flourish and grow.