Understanding Why, How, and When to use a Sensory Path–The Push Wall
Welcome to our fun new series where we are unpacking the details on why Sensory Paths are needed in our schools, how to appropriately and effectively use the Sensory Path, and when a sensory break is needed! We’re going to break it down by diving deep on each different type of movement. First up… the Push Wall!
Wall Push-ups are not a new invention. But you may not know how beneficial this activity can be for students in an academic setting. While super common in children with a wide variety of sensory processing disorders, you may notice that many of your traditionally considered “neuro-typical” students also exhibit behaviors indicating that their proprioceptive system needs a little engagement.
The standard American school day asks a lot from our youth. Most students are awake super early each morning to catch the bus and then asked to sit in class all day learning so much new material. Due to the increased academic rigor at all levels of our primary education system, students aren’t given enough physical movement throughout the day to help stimulate their nervous system and correct the signals sent from their brain throughout their tiny bodies.
If you’ve been teaching for longer than a few days, you’ve probably noticed students exhibiting some of these behaviors after a few hours into your day: biting, hitting, climbing, jumping, hyperextending joins, excessively rough play, clumsy walking, poor posture, lack of bodily awareness, and more! Students may be “playing” in their seats by rocking their chairs back and forth or pushing their hands on the seat to lift their bottom off the chair. Have you seen students holding their writing utensil with so much force that it looks like it could snap? Is there a student who just cannot stop running into the walls, desks, or other students on the way to lunch? Is it impossible for some students to keep their hands to themselves?
If you’ve answered “YES!!!!! A million times YESS!” to any of these questions, you have students who are demonstrating sensory seeking behaviors. These students’ bodies are begging for some proprioceptive stimulation.
A great activity for proprioceptive engagement is the wall push-up. We created a Sensory Path Element designed to give schools a dedicated space for students to get focused attention to their sensory needs. Push Walls are always included in each of our Full Sensory Path Packages. In addition to helping reduce some of the sensory seeking behaviors addressed above, the Push Wall by The Sensory Path is great for deep joint compression of wrists, elbows, and shoulders, challenging balance, and building upper body and core strength.
In order to get MAXIMUM benefit from your Push Wall, you’ll want to make sure you install correctly and instruct students on proper use. Ideally you will some place the hands just slightly above eye level and some hands at shoulder level for the average height of your students. On some of the push-ups, we want to encourage reaching. The floor pieces are really important for your Push Wall! Place the floor pieces at least 1 foot from the wall so that students are forced to lean into the wall. We suggest using the feet provided to mark a wide, just beyond hips-width stance. If students have to lean and reach a little further to find the hands, it helps ensure you get that deep compression we are looking for with this exercise. Have your students complete 2-3 push-ups on each set of hands while you also remind them to breath and focus. After they complete this exercise, your students will be back on track and ready to learn.
The Sensory Path Company has several amazing Push Wall options at great prices. As previously mentioned, ANY of our full Sensory Path Packages include a Push Wall. We also sell these packages as individual elements. You could add a Push Wall to every hall in your building for easy access to all students.
Some of our most popular Push Walls are listed below.
Visit our shop page to view all of our Sensory Path product offerings! We look forward to working with you soon!