Occupational Therapists throughout the developed world are reporting an increased prevalence of children presenting with decreased core strength and poor postural endurance. Many theories exist to try to explain this rise in motor challenges in our kids. Some of the more popular theories point the finger at three main features of out modern lifestyles:
1. less opportunities for kids to take movement risks such as climbing trees and swinging across monkey bars than in previous generations,
2. increased use of electronics reducing time spent engaged in more active pursuits, and
3. the increased use of “containers” during babyhood – by containers I am referring to the car seats, baby bouncers, bumbo seats, baby swings, and exersaucer type equipment that are so successfully marketed to new mums and dads.
Poor core strength has many functional implications for our kids. It’s difficult for them to balance, sustain an upright posture at a desk during lessons, participate in sports, perform coordinated movements with both sides of their body, and even hold a pencil.
One of our favourite ways to incorporate more core strengthening activities into a child’s day is with animal walks. Moving like a crab, a bear, an inchworm, a lizard or a frog are all strengthen a child’s core strength and motor skills in general. We like to write these animal names on paddle pop sticks and the child can choose a stick at random from a jar and that is the way the move to the bathroom to clean teeth etc.
If you are particularly concerned about your child’s core strength and motor skills, an appointment with a paediatric occupational therapist or physiotherapist can assist to identify any underlying weaknesses and support you and your child to build strength and endurance.