by Kelci Santiago
“Sit up straight, knees are 90 degrees, feet flat on the ground.”
I feel the above statement is my very own speech therapy mantra I continually use to remind the children I see here in Hawaii to check-in with their posture while sitting in therapy. More often than not, a child will come into therapy, sit down, and immediately slouch over, hunch his back, or use the table/chair to help hold himself up. Why does he do this? Well, why do you hunch? If you are sitting down and reading this are you on your sits bones, are your shoulders back and down with your chest slightly lifted? Can you feel your abdominal muscles working? You should feel your stomach expanding like a balloon as you inhale through your nose, and then returning to its normal position as you exhale.
A person’s posture is directly related to the strength in their core. Now think of your child or a child you know and envision the way he sits down. If he hunches, he most likely does not have the needed core strength to actually hold himself up.
The 90 degree hips, knees, and ankles that I would like to see is not going to magically become habitual without developing core strength and body awareness to achieve and maintain the correct body alignment. So the question is how can a child’s core (the center of control) strength increase? Simple exercises!
Listed below are 4 core strengthening activities that you and your child can enjoy together to increase your child’s strength and body awareness!
Activity 1: Wheelbarrow walks
A fantastic upper body strengthening activity! Now go for a walk and have your child try to pick something up with one hand. Quick note: If your child is young, you may need to hold his hips, while older children can be held by the legs.
Activity 2: Hula hooping
A great way to engage the hip and abdominal muscles is by stabilizing the hoop and keeping it on the hips. It might take some practice, but this activity is fun and a great way to improve body awareness.
Activity 3: Dog with sore paws
An exercise for increasing balance and core strength! First, have your child go on all fours, keeping his hands and knees hip width apart. Next, your child should lift their left arm and right leg simultaneously and then right arm and left leg, sustaining each pose for a few seconds.
Activity 4: SUPERMAN
Tell your child he is going to fly like a superhero! To do this, your child should lay on his stomach on the floor and try the best he can to lift his arms up off the floor so his upper chest will naturally lift up too.
Now go and have fun with your new exercises!