From yoga to exercise ball routines, core stability and balance is a major focus of many exercise and wellness programs. Having a strong core enables individuals to use their trunk, stomach and shoulder muscles with ease while improving overall posture. In addition, it helps improve a person's balance, thus improving coordination throughout the whole body. A strong core is crucial for everyone, but very often our children with sensory processing concerns demonstrate poor core stability despite their overall muscle strength. This not only affect gross motor, but fine motor skills as well. So, how do we find ways for our children to increase their core stability without the use of adult focus exercise programs? This month we are going to focus on how to strengthen the core while stuck inside with and without equipment during these winter months.
While the weather makes it difficult to partake in outside activities that are beneficial for core strengthening, there are many ways to make your inside play activities beneficial for your child. Dust off the exercise ball and make the most of your child's television time by allowing him to sit on the ball promoting the use of core muscles for balance. Challenge her to sit with her feet flat on the floor and a straight spine during the entire commercial break. Have him sit with his arms stretched out and feet off the floor as you provide distal support at the hands allowing the trunk muscles to keep the body balanced. The exercise ball is also a great way to change up activities such as puzzles, Mr. Potato Head, or block building. Have the child lie on his back on the ball and while inverted reach for pieces. The child then has to use her abdominal muscles to pull herself up to a sitting position and place the piece. You can also challenge the child without the ball by encouraging long sitting (legs straight out in front and not using hands for support) during games, homework and even television time. Encourage a straight back and legs as flat as possible. Set mini challenges to increase the amount of time he or she can hold the position.
A variety of games can be played to help achieve core strengthening, including Twister and doing the Limbo. Simon Says is also a great way to encourage yoga poses or one foot standing. And we cannot forget to highlight the benefit of the Nintendo Wii Fit for increasing overall core and stability. Be creative and set up obstacle courses that encourage crawling on all fours over pillows and couch cushions. For your smaller kiddos, have them sit up on a large blanket and pull them along for a ride, having them working to keep their bodies upright.
For those therapists and teachers, we now offer a variety of new items to spice up your balance and core strengthening activities. The new Deluxe Balance Board is more than just your typical balance board. It offers an extra large platform that can be used in sitting or standing for activities that encourage reaching. In addition, it allows the ability to attach resistance tubing, bringing in the focus of upper extremity strengthening.
The Rocking Seesaw increases the challenge of a child by having him try to keep his body upright while weight shifting from side to side. This is a great addition to hand and eye coordination activities of throwing at a target. The Round Seesaw allows one or two children to weight shift and get the disk rocking back and forth for a fun ride.Focusing on the core is a key factor in any therapy treatment and development, but is often overlooked. So, whether you are a parent, teacher or therapist, make it a New Year's Resolution to increase your focus on your children's core. Here are just a few old and new ways to help you along. Once you have a strong core, so many other skills will fall into place!