Welcome to Core Stability Exercises for our wheelchair users who have mild or no learning difficulty.

This page is for your Busy Butterfly who spends much time in their wheelchair for play and mobility and who has mild or no learning difficulty.

This page takes you through activities which will help strengthen your child’s core stability.

  • Core stability refers to the strength in your tummy and back and the amount of control and balance between the two sets of muscles.

  • Core stability is generally built up as we develop and try out new and more complex movements.

  • If children are less mobile, spend much of their time in a chair or if they have neurological impairments, their core stability may be affected.

  • Core stability is key to the workings of your whole body. If you have good core stability, both your arms and legs will work better as they are attached to a stable base.

  • With a good core it is much easier to have good fine and gross motor skills.  

  • A good core allows you to balance in different positions such as sitting or standing. It enables you to stay still and balanced while your arms and legs work (e.g. while you play) or to stay upright when you are on a moving surface (i.e. moving in your wheelchair).

  • Use this sequence to progress your child’s core stability. They may start at the beginning or half way down – wherever you think your child will be successful but still be challenged. If your child is not ready to attempt a certain activity, look at those either before or after which may suit them better.

  • Make sure your child is successful in their game as this will motivate them to continue. As you push them to get to the next level, they should be able to be successful for a few of their attempts to keep motivated – even if they are not successful at all of them.

  • Remember to praise the effort rather than the result to motivate them to keep putting in effort and not be put off if they don’t succeed.

  • Most of these activities will feel like fun anyhow but feel free to adapt the exercise to make it more entertaining for your child.

These activities will work the core of your Busy Butterfly

  1. Tummy Time is a brilliant position for strengthening your child’s neck and back. Use a rolled up towel under their chest to help them to push up on their elbows or hands. Activities in this position – looking up, reaching with their hands or just propping on elbows are all good for working the neck and back.

  2. Read them a book or they can watch TV here so they are motivated to keep looking up and pushing through their hands or elbows. 

Touching toes

  1. With your child lying on their back, encourage them to touch their toes.

  2. You could put bells or beads on their feet and help them bring their feet up in the air for your child to reach towards their toes.

  3. If they struggle bringing their feet up, place a small rolled up towel under the bottom of their bottom so their feet are already off the floor.

  4. You could also roll up a towel and put it under their head and shoulders to help them see what they are doing and bring their arms off the floor.

1) This can be in ring sit (with their hips wide and knees a bit bent) side sitting (legs going off to one side and leaning through 1 arm), long sitting (with legs straight out in front) or crossed leg sitting.

2) Start by helping them into the position and slowly reduce your support to see if they can stay still. If you need distraction, watching or reading are good as they can stay still for these. 

3) Once they can stay still, start playing with them so that they are using their hands but staying upright. 

4) Move on to reaching outside their base of support – side to side, in front or reaching behind them. 

5) You could also play ‘stuck like glue’ where they have to try and stay upright and you try (gently) to push them over.

1) This can be in ring sit (with their hips wide and knees a bit bent) side sitting (legs going off to one side and leaning through 1 arm), long sitting (with legs straight out in front) or crossed leg sitting.

2) Start by helping them into the position and slowly reduce your support to see if they can stay still. If you need distraction, watching or reading are good as they can stay still for these. 

3) Once they can stay still, start playing with them so that they are using their hands but staying upright. 

4) Move on to reaching outside their base of support – side to side, in front or reaching behind them. 

5) You could also play ‘stuck like glue’ where they have to try and stay upright and you try (gently) to push them over.

1) Once they can sit still on the floor, try sitting them up over your leg, sat astride a roll or on a bench so their feet are on the floor but their bodies are not supported. As they adjust to this stay close so you can help them if they fall. They can watch or read something in this position so they don’t have to use their hands.

2) When they are able to balance when they are still, challenge them by encouraging them to reach out to the side for a toy, reaching to the floor and back up or trying to reach out behind them to challenge their core and their balance.

This is a fabulous position to work the core.  

1) Start just trying to maintain a hands and knees position. It may be easier to start with the child sitting back on their heels and just balancing through their arms.

2) As they get stronger, move their bodies forward until their shoulders are over their hands and their hips are over their knees. 

3) In this position you can have loads of fun – play on a tablet with 1 hand, roll balls back and forwards, use a ball for a game of skittles etc.  

See our balance section to progress to more standing activities or to the section for those with mild physical difficulties for more core exercises.

More helpful Busy Butterfly resources

Here are a selection of suitable Our Home videos

Boccia

Boccia is a fun and easy to set up game that will challenge your child’s core muscle strength. 

Thank you for visiting Gympanzees’ website. All information provided by Gympanzees is of general nature and for educational / entertainment purposes. It is up to you as the parent or family member to judge what is appropriate and safe for your child. No information provided by Gympanzees should replace any professional information and advice that you have been given and speak to your therapist or doctor if you are unsure of anything. Should you use any of the information provided by Gympanzees, you do so at your own risk and hold Gympanzees harmless from any and all losses, liabilities, injuries or damages resulting from any and all claims.