Did you ever notice if your child has strong or weak muscles? Parents know their children best and often notice if a child acts clumsy or exerts a lot of energy to do general tasks. If you’ve noticed these signs in your child, it could be that your child needs more movement to get his or her muscles working.
Regular exercise is important for muscle strengthening as children grow and develop. As much as exercise is healthy for adults, children need to move too! In this blog, we’ll explore the reasons children may have weakened muscles and how to get your child involved in the right exercises to improve their muscle tone.
Signs of Weakened Muscles in Children
Signs of weakened muscles may look different from child to child. General signs to look for include:
- Trouble standing, walking, running, jumping, crawling, etc
- Difficulty raising arms or grasping objects
- Failure to meet general developmental milestones
- Visible lack or loss of muscle tone (muscles feel soft)
- Trouble swallowing or speaking
- Drooping eyelids
- Tired after basic tasks like dressing, bathing, etc.
Weakened muscles can be visible in children of any age, including infants. Although it can be worrisome as a parent, it’s important to remember that most cases of muscle weakness in children can be addressed with exercise.
What Causes Weak Muscles in Children?
There are a variety of different factors which might cause weak muscles in children. Often, muscle weakness in children is a temporary problem that will go away with simple interventions. A common cause of muscle weakness in children is a lack of physical activity (an easy fix!).
Some muscle weakness issues may be linked to specific nutritional deficiencies, such as a lack of dietary protein. You must feed your child a well-rounded diet full of rich protein, which supports good muscle health. Another common nutritional deficiency seen in children is a Vitamin B1 or thiamine deficiency. Electrolyte imbalances can temporarily cause weak muscles in children too. To learn more about feeding your child a well-rounded diet, view the Mayo Clinic’s Nutrition for Kids guidelines.
Most cases of muscle weakness in children can be remedied. In some cases, muscle weakness can be a sign of an underlying medical condition. For example, certain autoimmune diseases such as Myasthenia Gravis or Gulliain-Barre syndrome are sometimes associated with muscle weakness. Furthermore, some genetic conditions may also cause weak muscles. If you are concerned about your child’s weak muscles, it’s always a good idea to see a healthcare professional for a medical evaluation.
How Can OT Help a Child Build Up Their Muscle Strength?
With a few interventions, you can help your child build up muscle strength in no time! One way to do this is through targeted occupational therapy sessions, which offer therapeutic exercises that target specific muscle groups. After a comprehensive evaluation of your child’s muscle groups, an Occupational Therapist will create activities and exercises that focus on skills to promote motor skill development, coordination, balance, strength, and endurance.
By attending Occupational Therapy sessions, your child can also learn how to perform activities of daily living that require movement. Personalized Occupational Therapy exercises can help your child build up their muscle strength in areas of concern while strengthening their muscles and coordination skills.
What Can I Do with My Child to Increase Physical Activity at Home?
Attending Occupational Therapy sessions is just one way to help your child with weak muscles. In addition to therapy sessions, parents can play an active role in keeping their child exercising at home. Finding ways to make exercise fun and engaging for children will make them crave more!
Encouraging your child to participate in sports and exercise-based extracurricular activities is a great way to help them bolster their muscle strength. At home, simple backyard activities include running, climbing, hopping, playing catch, and more.
If you’re worried about your child’s muscle strength, there are many ways you can help them. The Therapy Place can help match your child up with an Occupational Therapist to develop specific exercise plans that are appropriate for their age and physical ability. Call us today to schedule a free evaluation for your child!
Be sure to check out The Therapy Place online blog for more tips that you can implement with your children at home.
Medically reviewed by Leah Gross OTR/L