As adults, most of us have heard of the ‘core’ or stabilising muscles of the trunk. They are vital to assist in trunk stability, and joint control. The muscles of this ‘abdominal canister’ co-contract to produce and control intra-abdominal pressure and assist in stability and load transfer across the lumbo-pelvic area.
These muscles, or ‘core’, atrophy, or weaken, due to pain and / or sustained postural dysfunction (e.g. slump sitting). Because our children spend so much time in front of one screen or another, we frequently see them with an underactive ‘core’, and subsequent poor sporting ability, and possibly pain. In order to allow our children to reach their fullest potential it is obligatory that they have optimal firing of their ‘core’ muscles.
When we teach children rehabilitation exercises, it is essential that they are fun to perform, so that they are improving trunk control almost without realising it. One of the best ways to achieve this is through exercises on the physio ball. Give the exercises below a go. Ensure you have the correctly sized ball. If your child is 12 years or younger (less than 160cm tall), a 45 cm ball is best. Try a 55cm if their height is around 165-175cm. Only use a 65 cm ball if they are close to 6 foot tall. Make sure the ball is pumped to its fullest and is firm. Pump it either at the garage, or with a foot pump.
Make sure that the ball is used in a spacious area, far from sharp corners or furniture to avoid injury.
Aim for 3 sets of 8 reps per exercise. The less of the leg on the ball, the more difficult the exercise is.
The Ball curl-up. Feel how hard those ‘core’ tummy muscles have to work.
The ‘Side-Saddle’. Fantastic for the oblique abdominals.
The Seal. Practice balancing on the ball like this. How long can you hold this position for?
Ultimate Balance. If you can hold this position for 30 seconds or more, then you’re a champ!