~~ By: Alex Lopiccolo, COTA/L, CPT, NC aka Mr. Alex
Proprioception is the concept of knowing where your body is positioned in space. In other words: body-spatial awareness.
The connective tissues, joints and muscles have proprioceptors deep inside and they are triggered through exercise. Children with proprioceptive dysfunction feel as if they are wearing dad’s baggy sweater, sweatpants and socks. These children often appear clumsy and have poor motor skills because it is difficult for them to know where their body parts are in relation to anything else, be it another person, the rug, furniture, paper, or anything else.
Here are some activities and sensory products you can use to help your child reap the benefits of proprioceptive input or “heavy work” for a home exercise program:
This high intensity, forceful, proprioceptive input repeatedly done over a short duration can often calm the Central Nervous System.
- Have your child run and perform a high jump over a pool noodle into a crash pad. Make sure to have multiple cushions for safety. Also, start the noodle low to work on technique, form, and safety.
- From a high platform or step, have your child squat then jump with a ball and throw it to a target while moving through space to land on the cushion.
Covering the eyes makes the child rely on the proprioceptive (body awareness) and vestibular (balance) senses. Sensory sacks filter out the extraneous visual stimuli and dampen noises.
- Ask your child to do animal walks in the sacks (bear, crab, starfish, and snake).
- Make crawling obstacles under chairs, through tunnels and over the couch.
Isometric Push and Pulls
Pushing or pulling against a stable surface, or with an adult giving the resistance, recruits more muscles and proprioceptive feedback.
- Play foot wars on your backs with the soles of your feet against each other’s and push back and forth with moderate resistance.
- Have the child try to break the adult down while the adult is in tabletop position. Explain rules, take turns, and be safe.
- Place the weighted blanket on your child’s back and have them crawl to get an item and bring it to a target.
- Have the child crawl through the steamroller as part of an obstacle course.
Alex Lopiccolo is a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant, Certified Personal Trainer, Nutrition Consultant, Jin Shin Practitioner, Wilbarger Therapressure Brushing Protocol Practitioner, Therapeutic Listening Program Practitioner who explores Sensory Integration inspired therapeutic activities. Alex, his wife and baby live in Edmonds, Washington. His favorite activities are spending time with his family and exploring the Pacific Northwest.