Hypotonia, a state of reduced muscle tone, often results in decreased muscle strength. Tone has nothing to do with shape or firmness, but the ability of your muscles to maintain a contraction at rest. If you have low muscle tone in the muscles of your trunk, this can result in poor posture or, in extreme cases, the inability to remain upright. Consult a physician before adding any exercises to your comprehensive treatment plan.
Hypotonia commonly presents only in the young, and is sometimes referred to as "floppy infant syndrome." Hypotonia can also present as decreased motor skills, hypermobile joints, poor reflexes and posture, and decreased strength and tolerance for activity. In an infant, hypotonia can also involve excessive drooling and the inability of the head to support the neck. Dealing with infants and newborns is a very specialized field and should only be undertaken by a skilled physician or occupational therapist.
Basic Trunk Strengthening
Even a young child may strengthen their trunk through physical activity. Simple exercises must be performed to reduce the risk of injury. Skilled exercises should be avoided. The muscles of the trunk may be strengthened by walking with various types of weights. A loaded backpack can be carried for a set distance, with the goal being to maintain proper posture at all times. Carrying a backpack in each hand is a more advanced version of the same exercise, and works the obliques, or muscles on the sides of your trunk to a greater degree. These muscles must work to keep you from leaning to one side or the other as you take a step, and the act of carrying a weight at your side forces them to compensate for this weight.
A simple abdominal crunch performed on the floor will help strengthen core and trunk musculature. While lying flat on your back, rest your feet on an elevated surface such as a foot stool, and bend your legs at your hips until your thighs are perpendicular to the floor. With your arms straight down at your sides, crunch yourself up by pointing your chin at the ceiling then curling down toward your hips. Repeat this for as many repetitions as possible.
Your spinal erectors, or muscles of your lower back must be strengthened as well. This can be done while lying face down on the floor. With your legs straight and your arms pointing straight overhead, arch up as if you were trying to touch your hands to your feet, but keep your legs straight. The act of arching your lower back will cause the muscles to work to support your legs and torso. As you gain strength, you can flutter your legs up and down a few inches, no more than six inches. This will cause the muscles of your lower back to work slightly more independently.
- "Strength Training Anatomy -- Third Edition"; Frederic Delavier; 2010