Wednesday, April 23, 2014
5 Physical Activities to Increase Power in Children
The definition of power is (force x distance) ÷ time. In other words power is the product of strength and speed over time. Many times children who receive therapy services exhibit a decrease in power. For example, perhaps a child can jump forward but does not have the power to jump forward long distances over the course of time. Obviously, use caution with power exercises - due to increase stress on certain joints power exercises may be contraindicated in some children.
Here are 5 physical activities to increase power in children:
1. Plyometric Jumps - Sometimes known as jump training, plyometric exercises have muscle exert a maximum amount of force in the shortest amount of time. The easiest plyometric to try with a child is a box jump. Have a child stand on top of a box or stool (about 12-18" high). Jump down and perform a vertical jump as high as you can when you hit the ground.
You can vary this activity by jumping down followed by jumping forward or to increase the challenge further jump down and jump back up onto a different stool.
2. Squat Jumps - Begin starting tall. Squat down and then jump as high as you can reaching for the sky. Repeat going back into the squat position. Vary it by doing a star jump - squat and jump high and out into a star position (jumping jack position). Jump back to standing tall. Repeat.
3. High Fast Skips - Skip moving quickly lifting the knees as high as possible. This can be very difficult for younger children. Try to skip with high knees to start with a bounce in each skip.
4. Medicine Balls - Throwing and catching medicine balls can help to increase power in the upper extremities. Try rebounding a small medicine ball off a mini trampoline that is upright against the wall.
5. Partner Activities - Stand back to back with a partner. Hold a medicine ball and twist at the trunk to pass it to your partner. The partner then moves the ball to the front of the body and passes it back to you. Play catch with a lightweight medicine ball with a partner. Practice chest passes and over head passes. Have the child lay down on the floor in hook lying position holding a medicine ball, perform a sit up and throw the medicine ball to an adult. This is obviously difficult so you may need to start with the child on an incline wedge.
What is your favorite power exercise to do with children?
Play Strong is a download of 40+ activities that promote muscle strengthening in children. The activities are great for your pediatric occupational and physical therapy sessions for children with varying abilities. This is an excellent resource for pediatric therapists. Find out more information at http://yourtherapysource.com/playstrong.html