We all know that having a strong core muscles (the muscles of abdomen, back and pelvis) is crucial for our balance, stability, body control and keeping the right posture. However, we may have not been aware about the fact that core strength plays a huge role in children's ability to focus and pay attention.
It can be really hard work to sit still behind the desk for a long period of time, even for us adults. I believe we all have been there.
Core strength allows us to achieve this task. Our core muscles help us to keep our bodies in upright position for longer period of time so we are more likely to focus on the tasks in front of us (writing an essay, reading or listening to the teacher).
Nevertheless, there is never only one system working at one. It is the whole body and brain functioning in smooth coordination. As we mentioned in last week's post, the vestibular system and other systems help us through cognitive tasks and it all goes hand in hand the the core strength.
So, how does it work?
Core strength keeps the body stable and in the upright position whilst the Vestibular system with coordination with other systems, such as the Reticular Activating System (RAS) prevents us from falling of the chair.
The RAS signals the brain to matters that require immediate focus, shutting out everything else. It is something like the brain's early warning system preventing us from physical danger.
The RAS shuts out everything else and the vestibular system along with the muscle skeleton system promotes the motor output - engaging the core muscles to maintain our bodies in the seated position or putting hands in front of us when trip over something.
The RAS helps the brain work through focused, cognitive tasks such as listening, reading, studying and problem solving.
As surprising as it can be, children often fidget because they trying to concentrate. During complex thinking tasks like school work, the brain may begin to tire and lose focus. When that happens, the RAS activates the muscles to move (fidget) in order to wake up the thinking brain and bring it back to task.
In summary, if we do not have a strong core, our muscles get tired very easily. That means we start to fidget and change positions which are more comfortable for us. When we move/ fidget the vestibular system and the RAS take over and that moment, we cannot fully focus on the certain task; therefore, by having strong core muscles we are able to sit still for a longer period of time and sitting down may not be as exhausting as it can be if we have a low muscle tone.
Click on the link to see some fun core strengthening activities that you can do with your kids.