Let's talk about your core strength! This is your midsection made up of abdominal, back, diaphragm and pelvic muscles. There are also hip flexors and thigh muscles that attach to the core as well as the broadest muscle of the back, latissimus dorsi (lats). All rely on the core to stabilize and move efficiently.
But what if the core is not stable?Poor core in children often results in lethargy, low tone and the inability to focus. Without strong stabilizer muscles, you can end up with pain, poor posture, poor balance and even difficulties with breathing and digestion. So let's take a look at some ways to get your core and your kids' cores in tip-top shape!
ExerciseMost of us are familiar with core exercises such as sit ups, but the core muscles can be strengthened through pelvic tilt exercises (rocking the pelvis), side bending, twisting of the spine, deep breathing, pelvic exercises, bridging and leg lifts to name a few. Using an exercise ball, stretch bands or balance cushions can make your core exercises more dynamic. These tools are great for all ages from babes to seniors.
With babies the emphasis is more on developmental positions such as tummy time, rolling and coming to sit, all of which can strengthen core muscles. With children, exercise may be in the form of yoga, dance, sports, swinging, karate or other activities that require core work.
SeatingActive seating can turn a stationary position into a dynamic activity. Try sitting on a wiggle cushion or slanted cushion. The idea is to keep your weight shifting and your pelvis active so that you are not having a prolonged stretch on those back muscles, which can become lazy and long. Try a rocking seat or rocking chair or even a soft pillow to get the core engaged while seated.
ClimbingThere is nothing as good as climbing to challenge and strengthen your core. Using the core as the stable base, the arms and legs will also get a great workout but cannot do so without engaging the core first. Ever seen a lazy climber? Probably not. For young children, climbing can be encouraged with outdoor play, playgrounds and obstacle courses.
CrawlingMuch like climbing, crawling is not just for little ones but also for those who need a great core workout…. on the ground. From an all 4's position you can go into a plank, the famous downward-facing dog, or alternate arm and leg lifts. Crawling requires engaged abdominal and back muscles, which can assist with walking as well.
KneelingKeeling provides a fun yet dynamic position for play or work. Try kneeling near a surface with toys on the surface or without. You can go from tall kneeling to Â½ kneeling (balance on 1 knee) to sitting on your heels to squatting.
Ninety percent of having core control comes from awareness. How am I sitting? How am I lifting, squatting, kneeling, bending, pushing, pulling or carrying? Taking an action break every half hour to stretch, realign or reawaken your muscles can make a tremendous difference on your health, posture, tone, body awareness and well-being.