Having a strong core is very important for people of every age, but it can be especially beneficial to your child as they work through their physical therapy program. As your physical therapist can tell you, core strength is what helps your child do exercises safely, and it can also help guard against future injury. There are several very easy exercises that can help your child improve their core strength. Speak with one of our experienced pediatric physical therapy providers to find out whether these exercises are right for your child.
Build a Bridge
The bridge position is super easy and is also a great way to build core strength for physical therapy and for life in general. Begin with your child lying flat on their back, and then bending their knees while leaving their feet flat for stability. Ask your child to push, using their heels, to elevate their bottom.
Use some physical therapy techniques, like counting, to time this exercise properly. While your child has their bottom elevated, count to three slowly and then have them return to the starting position. Repeat this 5-10 times, depending on what your child’s physical therapist recommends.
This exercise can be even better for core strengthening if you add an extra layer of difficulty. For example, you can have your child hold a small pillow between their knees and then squeeze it while doing their bridge exercise. If your child is building core strength rapidly and is breezing through their physical therapy program, consider having your child anchor their feet on a pillow instead of the floor. This makes it more challenging and helps your child maintain control of the core muscles even better.
The idea of flying is something that captures the imagination of many children, and this exercise focuses on that. While your child lies on the ground, tummy down, ask them to move their arms and shoulders off the floor. Alternate this with lifting the legs off the floor. As your child builds up core strength, they can try doing both arms and legs off the floor at once.
This exercise may look easy, but you should still start out slowly. Your physical therapist can recommend specific guidelines, for example counting to three and holding 5-10 times. When it becomes so easy that your child can do it very quickly and without effort, ramp up the difficulty or the repetitions as recommended by your physical therapy provider.
Power Up With a Plank
The plank is perhaps the best known of all core exercises, and it’s great for people of any age. Your child may first learn this exercise during physical therapy, but it’s easy to do at home as well. To do a plank, have your child lie tummy down on the floor, keeping their arms next to the shoulders and the legs straight.
Tell your child to push themselves up, using their hands, until their arms are straight. Legs should remain straight and toes can be used for support. Hold this position for a count of three, and then go back to the original position. Planks require major effort, so your child may need to just do a few to start out with.
By doing planks regularly, your child will quickly develop much stronger core muscles. They’ll probably notice the difference when they realize that the physical therapy exercises seem to be easier than they were before.
Need a physical therapy team you can trust for your child? Your physical therapist is ready to create a custom program just for your child’s needs. Contact us anytime for physical therapy help!