Core Stability: Pulling

“My daughter has low tone.  What can I do to get her core muscles working? When she is trying to pull open a heavy door, she can’t get any stability and she just gives up and asks us to do it for her”

Are you wanting to work on core stability with a young child? Strengthening is possible, but the way you go about it is quite different from adults.   Instead of counting repetitions, use the context of play.

Imagine that we are stranded on a tropical island!  We have just caught the biggest fish in the sea and we are pulling it to shore! There is a long rope with just the right amount of weight tied to the other end.  That doesn’t have you?  OK, I am in the water and you are pulling me back to shore!  The story is yours to create: castles, sleeping dragons, stubborn donkeys.  Have fun with the stories!   Once children come up with a story and get hooked into the imaginative play, they don’t realize they are working themselves into a sweat!

Hand-over-hand rope pulling requires core stability, proactive balance, motor planning, coordination and grasp strength.  We can’t expect easy success.  Due to the set up, we tend to bend our knees and get our feet staggered for a little extra pulling strength.   Pulling often elicits spiral and diagonal movement patterns as the child attempts to recruit all available balance and strength to get the job done.  If the fish gets away a few times, your imaginative play partner will be working on endurance too!

As you can see, strengthening doesn’t have to be boring or dry.  It’s a fun way to play together, share a story and get creative.

Author: spritelypt

Pediatric physical therapist

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