The condition known as "low muscle tone," or "hypotonia," results in muscles that are loose or floppy and less resistant than muscles that have normal tone. For children with this condition, daily activities are more difficult and they become tired more quickly, notes the Royal Children's Hospital Department of Occupational Therapy. Certain activities, however, can improve muscle tone by working the muscles in your child's body, helping make them stronger.
At the Playground
The playground offers the ideal opportunity for your child to build his muscle tone and strengthen the muscles throughout his body. Let him run and jump on the equipment. Pulling himself up the slide or hanging on the monkey bars are the types of activities that provide benefits, notes North Shore Pediatric Therapy. Using the climbing wall, pumping his legs on the swings, pushing himself up and down on a seesaw and gripping the merry-go-round as it spins are other playground activities that can help improve low muscle tone.
Most kids don't have to be cajoled into staying active. However, for kids with low muscle tone, physical activity can be difficult and tiring. Formal exercise gives them the chance to activate their muscles, become stronger and build muscle tone throughout their bodies. It doesn't matter which activity your child does as long as she enjoys it, according to pediatric development expert Andrew Adesman, writing for BabyCenter.com. Adesman suggests swimming or gymnastics. Yoga and weighted ball exercises also work well, adds the North Shore Pediatric Therapy. Biking, basketball or tennis are other beneficial options that many kids enjoy.
Creating an "action space" allows your child to move, learn and develop new skills. Creating an action space lets you develop activities that match your child's abilities but also challenge him in new ways so he has an enjoyable way to build muscle tone. Your action space might include lifting a watering can and pouring water into potted plants. It might be a swinging bar or a ball and bat, or it could be a bike or a large ball to sit on and bounce. Salt dough and clay to squeeze and manipulate are ideas for a quiet action space.
For some kids with low muscle tone, physical therapy exercises are prescribed by a doctor to help with the condition. The goal of such therapy is to improve posture and coordination and to strengthen muscles for improved stability. This might include water movement, squeezing a resistant object or massage by a physiotherapist to loosen the joints and muscles in your child's body. Your child might practice new ways to do tasks that help challenge her muscles while also allowing her to do things for herself, such as dressing and bathing.
- BabyCenter: What Is "Low Muscle Tone" and What Does It Mean?
- Royal Children's Hospital: Low Muscle Tone
- North Shore Pediatric Therapy: Low Muscle Tone Revealed
- SkillsForAction.com: My Child Has Been Diagnosed with Low Muscle Tone. What Does This Mean?
- SkillsForAction.com: Action Spaces for Fitness and Skill Development
- NHS Choices: Treating Hypotonia
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