Muscle tone refers to the muscle’s ability to sustain a contraction. It is different than muscle strength, which refers the muscles’ power. A child with low muscle tone is often observed to sit with a slouched posture, may have difficulty holding their head upright when sitting at a desk and may be observed to prop their head up with their hand. Other observations include having difficulty sitting for extended periods of time, particularly without back support or w-sitting, where the legs are splayed out to the side in the shape of a ‘w’ when sitting on the ground.
Muscle tone cannot actually be changed, though through occupational or physical therapy, muscles will become stronger and compensate for the low muscle tone to help support your child through his/her daily tasks.
Here are five activities to help address strength, endurance and low muscle tone at home and in the community:
- At the park, have your child lie on his belly on the slide and pull himself up the slide using only his arms.
- Complete yoga poses that work on balance and core strength, like down dog or plank.
- Using a weighted ball or BOSU ball, have your child lift the ball overhead with both arms, lower it to the floor and balance his hands on the ball while he jumps his feet backwards into a plank position. Repeat these steps 10 times.
- Have your child lie on his back on the floor. With his legs raised off the floor and knees bent, have him weave a ball between his legs.
- Encourage your child to use the monkey bars or hang from the zip-line when at the park.