Starfish Therapies

November 2, 2009

Having a Ball with Core Muscle Strength

Axel ball 1 Axel Ball 2

To follow up last week’s post ‘Core Strength:  Building a Solid Foundation‘ I wanted to look at some ideas for how to build that foundation.  There are so many ways to strengthen your child’s core muscles.  Using an exercise ball is just one of them, although there are so many options from this one piece of equipment.

You can work on individual sets of muscles.  For examples:

Situps – These are just like they sound.  Have your child sit on the ball and lay back.  While you are holding their hips or legs have them sit up.  Try to have them do it without using their hands to help push themselves up.  You could have them reach for you or you could have them cross their arms over their chest.   This way they have to use more of their abdominals.  To do extra strengthening have them try to lie down without ‘crashing’ down.  The slower they lie back down the more they are working their muscles!

Trunk Extension – This is the opposite of the previous exercise.  Have your child lie on their stomach (on the ball) with you holding them at their hips.  I like to put bean bags or some other toy on the ground and have them pick one up, using both hands, and lift up so they can put the toy on the couch.  Initially I may need to give them some extra support at their trunk so they can lift up high enough or roll the back slightly so they don’t have as far too lift.  The further forward they are on the ball the harder their muscles have to work.  You can also have them work in the opposite direction by taking the toy off the couch and lowering back down to place it on the floor.  (I find this one harder to convince the kids to do but its still possible!)  The more you can encourage them to lift up without having to push up with their hands, the more they will be working their back extension muscles.

Side Lifts – This is very similar to the previous two.  Basically, have your child lie on their side with you holding them at their hips.  Ask them to lift up so they are lifting their side up off the ball.  It usually works better if you have a toy or something they are reaching for, like giving you a high five!  The more you can have them lift straight without twisting the more you are targeting specific muscles.

Twisting is a good way to strengthen although it opens a whole new can of worms!

Besides working on individual sets of muscles you can also work on the way the core muscles work together to help your child maintain their balance and have effective balance reactions.  The way to do this is to have your child sit on the ball with you holding them at the hips or thighs.  Some options are:

Bouncing – Bounce them up and down on the ball while they try to hold their head and trunk in and upright position.  This is usually a great activity to do in between other exercises.

Slow Movement – Have your child sit on the ball and slowly move the ball in a direction and hold it there.  This will cause your child to work to keep their trunk and head upright and hold it so that they are working on the endurance of their postural muscles.  You can make it fun by having someone blow bubbles and have your child reach for them, or reach for a toy.  If I am by myself a lot of times I will use songs and have them clap or modify songs like ‘If you’re happy and you know it’ so that they are touch their head, reaching for the ceiling, touching their shoulders, etc.  The goal is to have them use their trunk muscles and not their hands for staying upright.

Fast Movement – This is very similar to the previous exercise except you are moving at a slightly more rapid pace and not sitting at one position for long periods of time.  This will work on your child’s ability to adapt to changes in position.  You may have to start out slow and then get faster as they become more adept at it.  Make sure when you are moving that you aren’t using the same pattern all the time (i.e. always clockwise movement).  Switch it up and use diagonals and circles and any pattern you can think of!

Hopefully this was helpful in giving you some ideas of how to ‘Have a Ball’ with your child’s core muscle strengthening!

Here are some other resources on using an exercise ball with kids:

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16 Comments »

  1. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by MotorSmartKids: Having a Ball with Core Muscle Strength http://bit.ly/VwMSg #moms…

    Trackback by uberVU - social comments — November 3, 2009 @ 9:02 pm | Reply

  2. Dear Stacy,
    I just love your updates and I am so impressed with your work and what you are doing to help people, especially children.
    I miss your smiling face!
    Love Heather Rogers

    Comment by Heather Rogers — November 4, 2009 @ 5:44 am | Reply

  3. […] Having a Ball with Core Muscle Strength « Starfish Therapies starfishtherapies.wordpress.com/2009/11/02/having-a-ball-with-core-muscle-strength – view page – cached Filed under: Developmental Milestones — Starfish Therapies @ 12:01 am Tags: kids, Starfish Therapies, physical therapy, Motor Smart Kids, sitting, gross motor development, balance, posture,… Read moreFiled under: Developmental Milestones — Starfish Therapies @ 12:01 am Tags: kids, Starfish Therapies, physical therapy, Motor Smart Kids, sitting, gross motor development, balance, posture, strengthening, exercise, coordination, motor planning, therapy ball Read less […]

    Pingback by Twitter Trackbacks for Having a Ball with Core Muscle Strength « Starfish Therapies [starfishtherapies.wordpress.com] on Topsy.com — November 4, 2009 @ 4:42 pm | Reply

  4. Great Blog! thanks for all the information in a good format.

    Comment by wellnessexpat — November 13, 2009 @ 1:38 pm | Reply

  5. […] 8.  Having a Ball with Core Muscle Strength […]

    Pingback by Top 10 Blog Posts of 2009 « Starfish Therapies — January 4, 2010 @ 10:31 pm | Reply

  6. […] plethora of ways to work on core strength and we’ve already touched on some of them in ‘Having a Ball With Core Muscle Strength‘.  Here are some other ways to challenge your child’s core strength (and possibly your […]

    Pingback by Some Ideas for Developing Core Strength « Starfish Therapies — February 8, 2010 @ 12:11 am | Reply

  7. […] 7.  Having a Ball With Core Muscle Strength […]

    Pingback by Top 10 Blog Posts of 2010 « Starfish Therapies — January 3, 2011 @ 2:13 am | Reply

  8. […] 8.  Having a Ball With Core Muscle Strength […]

    Pingback by Top 10 Blog Posts of 2011 « Starfish Therapies — December 31, 2011 @ 4:16 am | Reply

  9. […] endurance.  There are a lot of resources out there for ball work ideas and here are two, ‘Having a Ball with Core Muscles Strength‘, and ‘Therapy Ball Exercise […]

    Pingback by Core = More Than Just Abs « Starfish Therapies — January 18, 2012 @ 4:08 pm | Reply

  10. […] a therapy ball.  Have your kids sit on it and move it around in all directions with fast and slow motions.  Or […]

    Pingback by Ideas for Helping Kids Develop Better Posture « Starfish Therapies — May 21, 2012 @ 12:05 pm | Reply

  11. My daughter got hypertonia and hypotonia her legs muscles are very tight and her other body muscles are lose she use frame to move around but she walks on her toes she cant blance please can u recomand some exersices thank you

    Comment by Arooj khan — January 25, 2013 @ 1:31 am | Reply

  12. i love your blog .. can you please post in more exercises for hand functions development .., i have read about the arm strenghtning exercises ,, it helped .. my kid has hypotonia .. she was like a rag doll early on .. she is 5 .. her trunk is in great shape now .. am concerned about her hand strengh ( manupulation and bilateral ) co-ordination is diffcult for her .. she walks well but yet to attain gross motor skills like jumping etc .. she finds it difficult to weight bear on her right foot .. .. she got much help from the ball exercises .. thanks !!!

    Comment by shruthi — February 17, 2013 @ 7:10 am | Reply

  13. […] 5.  Having a Ball With Core Muscle Strength […]

    Pingback by 2013 Recap and Top Ten Posts | Starfish Therapies — January 1, 2014 @ 5:18 pm | Reply

  14. Yes! Finally something about Improve Core Strength.

    Comment by exercise — November 27, 2014 @ 7:59 pm | Reply

  15. […] 4.  Having a Ball with Core Muscle Strength […]

    Pingback by Top Ten Posts of 2014 | Starfish Therapies — December 31, 2014 @ 4:50 pm | Reply

  16. I was just wondering if you could point me towards evidence based articles to support the above. I don’t disagree with you but my colleague and I have meetings to discuss therapy and evidence. Appreciate any help you can provide.

    Comment by Rebecca — December 10, 2015 @ 1:41 am | Reply


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