July 10, 2017

Child Physical Therapy: Core Strengthening

William Prost

If you have participated in any workout class, you have probably heard about the importance of “core strength”. Our core is a stabilizer for almost every movement. Core strengthening should begin during the first week of life. Yes that is right, tummy time!  Tummy time is crucial in order to strengthen the muscles in the neck and back. The benefits of tummy time include:

  • Strengthening and stretching the neck, head, shoulder, and back
  • Prevents flat head syndrome
  • Develops sensory perception
  • Improves balance
  • Promotes rolling and crawling

Core strengthening is especially important for children with various diagnoses, including but not limited to low tone, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, and coordination disorders. Just about every child could benefit from core strengthening to help maintain functional postures at home and in the classroom.

At-home Core Strengthening Activities

  • Planks: For most children, a modified plank is often advised. Start on hands and knees while activating or squeezing stomach muscles. Once your child is ready, transition to forearms and toes. Be sure that your child’s hips are in a straight line with their back and legs. Click the link for a tutorial video
  • Wheelbarrow walking: Hold your child’s feet while they walk with their hands. Make it a game by having them walk from toy to toy
  • Walk-outs: Using an exercise ball, have your child lay their stomach on the ball. Support your child by holding their back, and encourage them to walk out onto their hands pushing the ball under their feet
  • Bridging: Have your child lay on their back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Drive toy cars under the bridge without the child collapsing on it!
  • Superman: Lie flat on the floor on belly. Encourage your child to lift arms off the floor, and then lift legs. To increase difficulty, lift arms and legs at the same time
  • Rock and roll: Have your child sit with their knees curled up and arms wrapped around. Roll onto the back and rock back up to the seated postion. The child may also rock side to side
  • Balancing: Standing on a pillow or couch cushion, your child must hold their balance while playing catch, popping bubbles, or hitting a balloon
  • Obstacle course: Create an obstacle course that challenges your child to climb over and under things. Some examples including jumping from pillow to pillow, climbing under a blanket fort, crawling through a tunnel, and jumping over toys
  • Square gym scooter: Scooters are a great way to incorporate core-strengthening activities into play. Children can lie on their stomach or knees and propel forward by pushing their hands on the floor

Most physical activities target the core in some way. Motivating your child to be active through fun games is usually the first step! Incorporate the provided exercises into daily play in new, exciting ways. For more exercises or modifications, contact Lumiere Children’s therapy to connect with an occupational or physical therapist.



Drobnjak, L. (2017, March 14). Core Strengthening Exercises for Kids. Retrieved May 22, 2017, from http://theinspiredtreehouse.com/child-development-core-strengthening-for-kids/

Ideas to Target the Core. (2017, May 14). Retrieved May 22, 2017, from https://starfishtherapies.wordpress.com/2017/05/14/ideas-to-target-the-core/

Redlich, J. (2016, March 22). Trunk Strengthening for Kids. Retrieved May 22, 2017, from http://kidpt.com/2011/10/24/trunk-strenghtening-kids/

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