I recently took a physical therapy course called “A Belly and a Butt.” In most people, but especially in a young child who is still developing, our main sources of stability are our core and hip muscles. Or in other words, the belly and the butt. The core musculature works hard to control the reactions of our trunk, limit our falls/improve our balance, pull us forward, and in general is the center of our body where almost all movements stem from. The gluteal muscles work hard to keep out hips extended and therefore keep our trunk in an upright posture. Gluteals also extend the leg and propel us forward. Picture a task as simple as walking. Without “a belly and a butt” your child would walk slouched, be swaying side to side, and taking small shuffling steps. Now imagine more complex tasks like running, jumping, climbing, rolling, etc that your child likely does each and every day and the amount of work both the abdomen and gluteal muscles are doing during those challenging tasks.
So how do we work these? When you go to the gym and want to work on your core, you have a variety of sit ups and planks to choose from. For a child it is so important to find ways to keep them excited and engaged so they'll be eager to participate. Here’s where the fun and creativity comes in. Have your child pretend to be like different animals: bear walks, crab walks, duck walks, be a flamingo and stand on one leg! Another way to utilize core and hips is during static activities- if your child loves to read, color/draw, do puzzles, have them do it on one knee (known as half kneeling) or 2 knees (tall kneeling) in order to encourage hip extension and balance. Lastly, and what seems like the most obvious is to make it playful! Have a contest to see who can do the most or balance the longest, have a race to see who can crab walk to the finish line. Let them challenge Mom or Dad, siblings, friends so it feels fun and social!
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