I’m often asked how to encourage upper extremity weight bearing with a toddler/preschool aged child. It’s not always easy in this age group as they are on the move and busy! We know that weight bearing through the upper extremity helps build strength through the hands/arms/shoulder complex/core. One of my favorite ways to get weight bearing through the upper extremity is crawling, but toddlers and preschoolers aren’t crawling on a regular basis. Of course there are plenty of games that can be played to incorporate crawling, but I have another favorite way to do this that my toddler sure thinks is fun.
Upper Extremity Weight Bearing
A fun way to encourage upper extremity weight bearing is using a ball that is big enough for your child to lay on but not too big that they can’t maintain their body on the ball. We have a cheap playground ball that I picked up this summer that was the perfect size. A beach ball would be a pretty good medium sized ball as well. Since this post was originally written we’ve come up with so many more creative upper body exercises for kids!
Have your child lay over the ball with an engaging game, puzzle, or even coloring page in front of them. Just make it something that they enjoy doing.
This is a great way to get weight bearing through the upper extremity. Along with weight bearing playing in this position has other added bonuses.
- Weight Shifting- Whether it is picking up a puzzle piece or crayon weight shifting through the upper extremity is happening!
- Bilateral Coordination – By stabilizing with one hand and utilizing the other hand to complete the task.
- Proprioception – This position is great to work on body awareness and where your body is in space.
- Core Strengthening – Maintaining stability in this position results in a great core work out.
- Midline Crossing – This can be encouraged by strategically placing objects and making a game out of which hand picks up which piece!