Children require core strength to participate functionally in activities. As adults, we don’t think much about how often we engage our abdominal muscles everyday. For children, they use their core for practically everything: coming to sit from lying down, maintaining balance sitting on the floor or in a chair, walking, jumping, etc.
When a child is able to maintain sitting by using core muscles, they can engage more with their environment. If they have a weak core, they may w-sit or lean on objects to compensate. This either affects their joints (w-sitting will be covered on a later post) or limits their ability to participate, respectively. They could also exhibit poor posture demonstrated by a slouched position or standing with stomach sticking out with increased lower back curvature. Posture can affect lung capacity, spine curvature over time, and progress to excess tightness or weakness in other muscles that are trying to pick up the slack.
A few ways to play with younger kids to strengthen the core muscles include having them pull to sit from your lap, sitting up on a therapy ball, and tummy time. For older kids, they can complete sit-ups with feet stabilized, plank position, maintaining balance on therapy ball with feet flat on floor, crab-walking, and swinging just to name a few.