Low Muscle Tone – what you need to know

You most probably heard the term low muscle tone from your paediatrician or even a therapist that your child is seeing. Does that mean your child is weak? The answer is NO. 

It just mean that your child’s muscle tension is low or reduced than an average child. 

The video below is from Surestep and it explains what low muscle tone is in simpler terms so that you can understand. 

The term hypotonia is used to describe low or decreased muscle tone. It can be describe as a spectrum as some people have low muscle tone and some people have higher muscle tone. 

So, what does low muscle tone mean? For a quick visual explanation, grab a rubber band

Muscle tone gives us the ability to hold our bodies upright, to move with control, and our stamina when completing activities. 

Children with low muscle tone often needs to put more effort to get their muscles moving optimally when carrying out activities, particularly upright activities. This is because their muscles are less tense when they start a movement or activity. Most of the time children with low muscle tone are seen with:

  • Achieve major motor milestones late; e.g., sitting, crawling, standing, and walking but not always
  • Achieve higher level motor skills late or have difficulty with activities such as jumping, hopping, skipping, going up and down stairs, climbing and playing on playground equipment
  • Clumsiness; e.g., gets injured more frequently, falls more often
  • Poor posture; e.g. w-sitting, leaning on walls, slump or lean on one hand during table task activities
  • Flat feet
  • Poor endurance; e.g. gets tired very quickly, wants to be carried more so than other kids their age
  • Difficulty with handwriting and drawing; e.g. difficulty holding their pencil with a proper grasp, might push too hand or too lightly, gets tired quickly when writing/drawing
  • Difficulties with their mouth and jaw; e.g. holding their mouth open and drooling especially when concentrating, poor clarity of their speech, difficulty progressing to chewy food

Here are some common questions that parents often ask

Will my child outgrow low muscle tone?

Children with low muscle tone progresses slow than other developing children but will ultimately catch up with their peers through more physical activities. 

However, muscle tone is specific to each child’s own nervous system that simply won’t change. 

Is my child lazy?

Children with low muscle tone are often thought to be lazy, fidgety, and have poor attention. They seem to be avoiding tasks or activities or may say a certain activity is too difficult for them. In fact, they are literally just not physically able to do the activities as well a their pees or as long as their peers. 

As parents/practitioners/therapist/teachers, it is up to us to modify the activity or accommodate to the child’s needs into the activity. 

Will my child ever walk?

Depending on the cause. A child with low muscle tone often takes longer to reach motor developmental milestones such as sitting up, crawling, walking, talking, and feeding themselves. 

Majority of the children who have low muscle tone do learn how to walk. Expect your child to progress at their own pace and celebrate every step forward!

Is there a cure?

There is no cure to low muscle tone. 

Instead, reach out to get professional help. Physiotherapist, Occupational Therapist, and orthotics are all great options. 

What are the treatment options for low muscle tone?

You may start by seeing a Physiotherapist. The therapist will provide an individualised therapy programme design to increase strength, coordination, and balance. 

However, therapy alone is not enough. 

Children benefit most from therapist with it is paired with SMOs. Think of these little ankle braces/orthotics as training wheels for your child who need a little extra help to get going. 

What makes Surestep SMOs unique?

Surestep SMOs provide your child with a variety of exceptional benefits:

  • uniquely flexible and comfortable plastic
  • shortened footplates for more freedom of movement
  • modifications to meet your child’s unique needs
  • 30+ fun patterns to choose from
  • fabrication from measurements instead of messy casts

Give your child the best opportunity to crush milestones and catch up with peers!