What is a weak core and why does it matter?

As paediatric physiotherapists, we often have children referred to us because of a “weak core”.

What are core muscles?
Core muscles are the main stabilizing muscles of the body. They’re made up of the back extensors, abdominal muscles, the pelvic floor and diaphragm.

weak core muscles


I like to describe the core muscles as the foundation of your house. If you want to build a strong, stable house, you need to have a strong foundation.

Core muscle development

The core muscles start developing in infancy. Babies start to develop back muscle strength by lying on their tummies. They develop abdominal muscle strength by playing on their backs. Once a balance of these two muscle groups has been achieved, babies have a stable enough trunk in order to sit, roll, crawl and stand.

baby playing tummy time core muscles
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Baby_playing_-_by_Patrick_Jayne_and_Thomas.jpg

With a strong core (a stable base), one can start to develop arm and leg strength and coordinate more complicated movements – such as holding a spoon and standing on one leg. Going back to the house analysis – once you have a strong foundation, you are able to build on walls, windows, doors and a roof.

How core strength affects your school-going child

If your school going child has a weak core, it makes tasks such as sitting up straight and concentrating during carpet or desk time so much harder.

child desk weak core
https://www.piqsels.com/en/public-domain-photo-jfpmj

They may struggle with:

  • Fine motor activities such as holding their pencil and drawing as they do not have a stable base.
  • Keeping up with the other children on the playground performing things like jumping and climbing.
  • Concentrating
  • Producing clear speech
  • Being very tired during the school day
  • Avoiding more difficult gross motor activities
  • Have poor self confidence

What should I do if I think my child has a weak core?

If you suspect that your child may have a weak core and its affecting their performance at school, you can contact your local paediatric physiotherapist for an assessment.

Not sure where to find a physio? Pop me an email and I can help point you in the right direction.

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