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Begin to Bike

By: Cassidy McCoy PT, DPT

Summer is a great time of year to get back on your bike.  Here are a few key concepts to help your child ditch the training wheels!

The key to learning how to balance and ride on a two-wheeled bike is to ensure proper stability at the trunk, allowing your child to move their arms and legs freely for steering and pedaling.  Here are some tips to help bring the physical components of bike riding all together.

  1. Balance bike
    1. A balance bike is a bike with no pedals. A balance bike can be purchased, or balance bikeyou can simply remove the pedals from your child’s current bike until they get the hang of it.
    2. First, start with having your child sit on the bike, lower the seat so their feet touch the ground. Have them walk the bike with their feet to begin to learn how to balance without training wheels.
    3. As this gets easier, progress to using both feet at the same time to push the bike and pick their feet up off the floor to glide while maintaining their balance.
  2. Catching themselves
    1. Another way to work on balance is to teach your kids how to catch themselves by placing their foot down when they feel like they are tipping over. Hold the bike stationary for you child as they place both feet on the pedals. Let go of the bike, allowing it to fall to one side or the other. Your child should place their foot down in order to catch their balance.
  3. Steering
    1. Using cones or other objects, set up a pattern for your child to steer around. This can be done with a balance bike while scooting/walking it through or with pedaling if your child has mastered their balance.IMG_5042
  4. Start to Pedal
    1. When your child is ready to pedal, have them start standing with their feet flat on the floor. Have them lift one foot onto the pedal that is lifted at around 2-3 o’clock. As they push down on the pedal to get the bike going, they will lift their other foot onto the other pedal and push down to maintain momentum. If needed, you can help steady the bike by gently placing your hands on your child’s shoulder or the bike seat.

 

Bonus Pro Tip:

tricycleAvoid the discomfort of hunching over to push young riders along on their tricycles. Lace a sturdy rope around the bike’s structure, careful to avoid the spokes and pedals.  This allows you to help pull the trike along, adjusting the resistance to match the child’s ability.

 

Remember to always practice safe cycling. Wear a helmet, and obey the rules of the road.

 

Help your child develop their cycling skills at Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley’s Bike for the Kids on Sunday, September 17 in Elgin, IL.  This long-distance bike ride includes a 2.5 mile family ride, pedal parade and kid-friendly entertainment!

To learn more about Physical Therapy programs to improve strength, balance and coordination at at Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley visit:
http://www.easterseals.com/dfv/our-programs/medical-rehabilitation/physical-therapy.html

 

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5 Great Yoga Poses for Kids

By: Bridget Hobbs, PT, DPT

Yoga is becoming an increasingly popular form of exercise, so much so, that you can find yoga studios on many street corners.  Yoga is also a very beneficial form of exercise for kids.  In the clinic, I use a set of yoga cards entitled “Yoga Pretzels” by Tara Guber and Leah Kalish.  They have large, colorful illustrations of the yoga pose on the front as well as a detailed description of the pose on the back.  Listed below are 5 of my favorite yoga poses for kids.  These help with motor planning, strength, balance and attention and are really enjoyable for kids to do.

1. Down Dog:  Down dog is a great hamstring stretch for kiddos (and adults) with tight hamstrings.   It is also really helpful for gaining strength in the upper back and core and for stretching the back muscles.

downward dog

2. Tree: Tree is my favorite pose to work on with kids who need help with balance.  Kids pretend like their arms are the branches and stretch them high.   Kids can really feel this one working their leg muscles.

Tree

3. Butterfly: If your child is a w-sitter, this pose is for them! Butterfly helps kids who have a hard time sitting cross-legged ease into sitting with their feet in front of them.  Butterfly is also a great core strengthener, as kids can lengthen their torso tall and gentle flap their legs up and down simulating butterfly wings.

Butterfly Pose

4. Plank: The plank pose is a more advanced pose for older children. It helps kids learn the proper technique for push-ups as well as provide a good calf stretch. It strengthens the chest, shoulder and core muscles.  If plank is too tough with legs extended, try putting knees on the ground for more stability.

Yoga_PlankPose_300x350

5. Resting pose: The resting pose is a good pose to end a session with. Kids can focus on listening to the slowness of their breathing to gain calmness and slow down a ‘fast’ engine.  This pose can improve focus and concentration.

yoga5

There are many benefits to doing yoga for children including:

  • increasing strength
  • energy
  • flexibility
  • overall sense of well-being

Some fitness centers offer yoga classes for children.  You can also purchase yoga cards fairly in-expensively and do yoga with your child to make it a family activity.  Yoga can be a life-long exercise that is easy on the joints and beneficial for the mind.

 

For more information about Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley please visit EasterSealsDFVR.org.