Kids (and therapists) will love these fun balance exercises! All you need is a foam balance pad! Scroll down to learn more!
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Over the past month, I have had the pleasure of observing my own child in outpatient sports physical therapy for rehabilitation of a stress fracture in her heel. It has been so fun to sit back and watch another pediatric PT put her through the exercises that will ultimately return her to her favorite sport.
It has also been an education! I love to watch how different therapists approach treatment of the skills that all kids need to be active: balance, coordination, strength, range of motion. And, it has led to some great conversation between the two of us as we have shared ideas and strategies.
In the school setting, my access to equipment is often limited (both by budget and storage space). Last week, my daughter’s therapist pulled out a foam balance pad. Hmmmm, I thought, why don’t I have one of these?
She proceeded to put my little athlete through a series of progressive balance activities. Some were easy. Others were challenging. Ultimately, it was a fun workout that anyone, young or old, could do to improve balance.
Why Use a Foam Pad For Balance Exercises?
Why stand on a foam pad to complete balance exercises? Standing on an unstable surface causes the body to activate its proprioceptors and tell the brain where the body is in space.
As you can imagine, standing on a solid surface (the floor) would be much easier for the brain to interpret and respond to than standing on a variable surface like a foam board that is constantly changing with every little body movement.
As the body responds to the slight changes that the feet/ankles are feeling while standing on the foam, the core engages, creating more and more stability and therefore increasing the body’s ability to balance! Fascinating stuff, huh?
Balance Exercises for the Foam Pad
WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
WHAT TO DO:
1 || Start by having your child stand on the balance pad and just get used to being a little unstable. She will quickly get used to this new standing surface and this will be easy-peasy in no time!
2 || Add a little challenge. Ask her to stand on one foot. Now the other foot.
3 || Try playing catch with the ball or a bean bag while the child is standing on the pad. Can she do that while standing on one foot?
4 || Ask her to toss bean bags into a laundry basket while standing on the pad. Too easy? Have her bend down to get a beanbag from the floor, return to standing and then toss it. Can she do it on one foot?
5 || Try bouncing and catching a ball or throwing it to a target on the wall. If you have a Pitchback, it provides an extra challenge by returning the ball to her in an unpredictable trajectory!
Her body will have to work even harder to maintain its balance as she adjusts to catch. Again, try with both feet on the board and then with only one foot.
6 || Take those bean bags and sprinkle them on the floor all around the foam board. Have her try to use one foot to slide the bean bags as far away from the foam board as she can without losing her balance or touching her foot to the floor.
This will be easiest in the forward direction. Increase the challenge by putting bean bags to the sides and behind her. Make sure she tries with both feet!
7 || Try tree pose on that foam board. Eyes open and then eyes closed!
HOW TO CHANGE IT UP:
-Try some of these with closed eyes! This takes away the visual component of balance and makes it even harder!
You can check out our best balance activities for kids here.
And here are our favorite toys for promoting balance.