Definition of Prone Extension
Prone extension is a posture where kids lie on their bellies while raising their legs and arms off the ground. It is also commonly called the ‘superman pose’.
This posture plays a vital role in developing the anti-gravity strength of your child’s head, neck, arms, legs, and trunk. This particular form of exercise also develops the vestibular system and body awareness.
In infancy, having a ‘tummy time’ that includes crawling, rolling, and sitting is essential for kids to achieve prone extension. It can also be used as a diagnostic tool for a child who has any difficulty with other motor skills coordination, balance, or any sensory integration issues.
A swing, mat, or therapy ball can be considered a useful tool to promote prone extension. Prone extension exercises have a constructive and free-flowing effect on both the inner and outer muscular structure.
Prone Extension Exercises
Below are some prone extension games for all ages.
Using a Scooter Board
In this prone extension activity, ask your child to hold a rope with a strong grip. Now, instruct them to pull themselves up while lying in a prone posture on the scooter board.
You can increase the complexity by keeping the scooter board on a carpet-covered area, instead of tiles, and having your child perform this exercise.
Using a Therapy Ball
Using a therapy ball as a prop is beneficial for children to develop the prone extension. This activity requires good balance. Ask your child to lie on their backs on a therapy ball.
Now direct them to place some objects (like a bean bag) into a bucket that is kept on a surface that is a bit higher in height (like a shoebox) compared to the floor. You can increase the complexity of the exercise by changing the position of the box along with the bucket to extend your child’s reach further.
Toss the Rings
Ask your child to lie on a mat or on the floor. Then, instruct them to toss rings or bean bags onto a selected area.
Using an Ottoman or a Chair
Direct your child to lie on a chair or ottoman with the support of their stomach. Some kids may want to touch the floor with their toes to be steady. Others may want to raise their legs for extra vestibular input.
Now, blow bubbles around and ask them to reach out to pop the bubbles.
Using a Swivel Chair
Ask your child to lie on a swivel chair with their stomach down and push the chair away from the wall using their hands. This exercise can also be done with a scooter board.
Using a Straw
Instruct your kid to lie in the prone position and blow cotton balls or pom-poms into a target area using a straw. This particular exercise also involves oral motor skills and breathing activity.
Also, deep breaths are helpful in maintaining the prone position. A slower exhalation can boost the stability and strength of both the inner and outer core muscles.
Using a Pool Noodle
Allow your child to hit targets with a pool noodle while lying in a prone position.
Hitting a targeted area by reaching forward with the hands also promotes hand-eye coordination while building muscle strength.
Have your child imagine that they are seals and ask them to copy the body posture of a seal.
Instruct them to imagine a ball on their nose and make them walk forward and backward while balancing the imaginary ball. Then direct them to take the help of their lower arms to support their bodies and make them walk forward and backward on their feet.
Ask them to imagine that their feet are ‘flippers’ for added fun. You can increase the complexity by having them clap their hands while still balancing the imaginary ball.
This animal walk is great to develop prone positioning.
While your kid is lying on their tummies, ask them to imagine themselves as Superman and flying through space by lifting their head, arms and legs up from the floor. Direct them to raise their head and arms as high as possible in order to fly high and make them lift their legs to fly low.
You can add more fun to it by introducing imaginary obstacles like castles and skyscrapers. Instruct them to turn left and right from time to time to avoid the obstacles by raising their arms and legs.
You can always incorporate music and combine multiple movements into these activities to make the process more engaging for your kid.
For example, while performing the seal exercise, have your child balance the ball to the count of eight. Make them walk both forward and backward to the count of eight and have them clap their hands also for the count of eight.
At the time of the Superman exercise, you can ask your kid to fly straight to the count of eight and then alternate fly high, low, left, and right to the count of eight.
Part of the Daily Routine
Prone extension exercises can be incorporated as a fun activity or game into your child’s routine to improve their body awareness while providing vestibular and proprioceptive inputs.
For example, you can ask your child to lie in a prone position while reading a book, writing, and coloring, playing with small cars, and so on. You can easily combine this body position with other therapy goals such as fine motor skills, handwriting, and visual perceptual activities.
Assessing the Position
Assessing your child’s progress is extremely essential in order to be aware of whether their motor development is on the right track. While performing prone extension exercises, check for the positioning of their body parts.
Ideally, the correct position is where your child’s head is lifted vertically off the floor with legs straight. If you find your kid’s knee is bent, gently ask them to keep the knees straight.
Initially, a child’s bent knee posture while performing prone exercises is quite natural as it will straighten with instruction, time and practice.
Benefits of Prone Extension Exercises
Prone extension exercises enable your child’s ability to raise their head, neck, hands and legs up against gravity with the support of their shoulder and trunk and thereby sustain the position.
This posture helps to develop the postural muscles which are important for your child to sit with the back straight. This activity is also beneficial in improving the stability of the neck.
With a lack of these postural muscles, kids usually sit or stand with a round shoulder positioning and bent spine. This can be a hindrance for your children to perform any activity with ease.
Consistent practice of prone extension exercises improves your child’s body posture and position by strengthening their core muscles. Stable and strong core muscles allow children to perform better in their academic setting and later in life.
Prone exercises play an important role in improving your kid’s sensory and motor systems. It helps to develop the vestibular system by learning to understand and tolerate the movement between two positions. In addition, the prone extension also strengthens muscles in their body so they can maintain an upright posture.
To sum up, prone extension exercises aid the development and improvement of a child’s sensory integration by connecting the vestibular visual and tactile inputs. This ensures an efficient motor plan and thus, enables your child to perform any daily life activity independently.
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