How Sensory Path Products Support Physical Therapy Goals: Jumping
This week our topic is core & lower extremity strength! There are loads of products from The Sensory Path™, individual elements & full Sensory Paths, that are perfect for addressing core & lower extremity strength goals!
One of my favorite ways to address core & lower extremity strength is to work on jumping. Jumping is an important gross motor skill that builds core & lower extremity strength, improves agility, improves & develops body awareness, improves timing & control, develops bilateral coordination, and develops the proprioceptive & vestibular sensory systems. Jumping emerges around 2 years of age as children begin to experiment with verticality, attempting to jump up off the ground. At this age jumping is fairly uncoordinated and often asymmetrical as toddlers have not yet built the strength or control to jump with both feet leaving the ground & landing simultaneously. Once the ability to clear the ground symmetrically develops, children then begin to develop the ability to jump forward increasing distances and eventually develop the ability to jump diagonally, laterally (to the side), rotationally (i.e. turn jumps – 90, 180, & 360 degrees), and even backwards. Furthermore, jumping is such an important gross motor skill that it is typically incorporated in the PE curriculum & activities and is also a gross motor skill that children naturally incorporate while playing together like at recess.
Here is an example of a jumping goal that I’m working on with a student I see for school-based physical therapy services.
By the end of the IEP year, Name will jump forward 12” without loss of balance & symmetrical takeoff/landing in 4/5 trials to improve core/lower extremity strength and PE related gross motor skills to promote age-appropriate participation in PE.
Now there are many ways we could address this goal, but first let’s dive into what prerequisite skills a child must have to be able to jump.
- They must have adequate standing balance & must be able to stand independently.
- They must have adequate core & lower extremity strength.
- They must be able to time & coordinate both legs leaving the ground & landing simultaneously.
- They must have enough sensation in their feet & legs as well as body awareness to know where their body and legs are.
- They must have adequate vision to appropriately judge depth & distance.
For this example, let’s pretend that the child has all the prerequisites listed above except for adequate core & lower extremity strength. Now depending on how old the child is and their current gross motor skill level we may have to start from the beginning to build the ability to even jump up a couple inches from the floor. However, in this particular example the child has the ability to jump forward 6” but is unable to jump any further with good form or without falling. There are many effective strategies to assist a child with increasing their jumping distance but some favorites I turn to are:
- Jumping down from elevated surfaces – the process of landing when jumping down from a surface requires more effort & stronger muscle contractions as the body not only has to account for the child’s body weight but also the force of gravity.
- Providing them handheld assistance during takeoff of the jump – while the child is jumping I often will hold their hand (sometimes both hands) and as they take off provide a little force directed upward & forward to facilitate a longer jump.
- Placing a resistance band around their waist during the jump – sometimes I will utilize a resistance band placed around a child’s waist which increases the difficulty and force required for the child to jump. As they practice jumping with this increased resistance they build more strength and are able to jump further once this added resistance is removed.
Although these are great strategies, the most important aspect when children are developing any gross motor skill is repetition. Providing ample opportunities for them to practice a gross motor skill as well as providing cues, whether visual, verbal, or tactile, to provide feedback to the brain & body about HOW they are performing the skill is extremely beneficial to their motor learning. The Sensory Path’s™ Leaping Logs provide a perfect non-slip visual cue. They can be placed at varying distances, they are perfect for all levels, and as they come in a pack of 6 they encourage… you guessed it… repetition! The Ninja Warrior Block Hops Sensory Path™ Element is great for those whose ability to perform multi-directional jumps is emerging as they are placed at diagonals which increases the level of difficulty. They also come in a pack of 10 to encourage repetition. Last, but definitely not least, is the Surf Board Body Hop Sensory Path™ Element. This product provides another level of visual cueing as on top of the surf boards are foot prints placed in various directions to encourage rotational jumps in which the child is turning 90, 180, or 360 degrees in the air while they jump. This is definitely one of my favorites as it not only incorporates multi-directional jumps which is more challenging but requires a lot of coordination & motor planning. Furthermore, this product as it encourages rotational movement really stimulates the vestibular system!
Check out The Sensory Path’s™ website for their Leaping Logs™, Ninja Warrior Block Hops Sensory Path™ Element, and the Surf Board Body Hop Sensory Path™ Element as well as many other incredible products that help facilitate & develop core & lower extremity strength by encouraging jumping. Also check back next week for more ideas of how to utilize & incorporate The Sensory Path’s™ products into treatment sessions or gross motor activities!
See y’all next week!
Catherine C. Skelton, PT, DPT
Pediatric Physical Therapist