Why core strength is important for little ones

Why core strength is important for little ones

Why core strength is important for little ones

Core strength or postural control, it’s the anchor and launching pad for everything that we do. Like a tree needs a strong trunk to withstand its environment, children need strong core muscles to participate in life’s daily activities.


What are core muscles?

The body’s core muscles are the muscles of the abdomen, pelvis and back. It is the foundation for children to be able to achieve and stay in an upright posture whilst standing and sitting without support. If a child has poor core strength, they will therefore have difficulty controlling fine motor skills, such as handwriting, and participating in gross motor activities like school sport.


How does it develop?

Core strength is the first building block of using our muscles. For example, an infant begins building their core muscles by doing floor play and tummy time in the first several months of life. A baby needs to become strong when doing tummy time in order to progress to skills such as rolling over, sitting up, crawling, pulling themselves up to stand, and then walking.


Strength and control of our limbs actually starts with control of our core. This is because having a strong and stable core improves our body’s ability to use our hands to perform fine motor tasks, such as holding a pencil, writing, or doing up a button on a shirt. A strong core also plays an important role in your child’s ability to pay attention! When a child is squirmy in their seat at school, it may be because they have weak core muscles. This is because they will often have difficulty maintaining an upright posture, and will spend a lot of their time and mental energy on adjusting their body position to compensate, impacting on their ability to focus on the task at hand.

What should I be looking out for?

Your child may have weaker core muscles if you notice the following:

  • Slouched or slumped postures/difficulty maintaining an upright posture
  • Sitting in a W-sitting position regularly
  • Frequently needing to change positions/difficulty sitting still
  • Holding their head up with their hands
  • Poor attention skills
  • Difficulty with fine motor tasks (e.g. doing up their buttons)
  • Difficulty holding a pencil and poor handwriting skills
  • Poor coordination or frequently losing their balance
  • Difficulties getting up and down off the ground
  • Fatigues easily and may need frequent rests during physical activities


What can I do to help support core strength?

The good news is that there are lots of fun activities that you can do at home to improve your child’s core strength! Our favourites include

  • Animal walks – have your child move around like different animals (crabs, bears, worms, frogs, bunnies – anything you like)
  • Obstacle course – Build an obstacle course with couch cushions, boxes, and chairs to crawl over and under
  • Wheelbarrow games – hold your child by the feet/ankles and walk them around the room like a wheelbarrow! To make it extra challenging, have your child use one hand to reach for and pick up an item such as a teddy bear
  • Sitting and rocking on a yoga ball
  • Superman game – have your child lay on their stomach and lift their arms and legs and pretend to be Superman flying through the air
  • Twister
  • Climbing trees or climbing up a ladder for a slide


If you have ongoing concerns for your child’s core strength, please contact one of our Occupational Therapists to discuss your child’s development further.


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