#298 - 10 Therapeutic Activities With a Yoga Ball

by Jessica Hill, COTA/L & Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC March 05, 2024 1 Comment

#298 - 10 Therapeutic Activities With a Yoga Ball

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 10 Therapeutic Activities With a Yoga Ball

Get ready for an episode full of simple, straightforward activities using one piece of equipment - a yoga/therapy ball!

We dive into the benefits of this single piece of equipment, why you should have one in your home and multiple in your clinic and school, and then we jump right into our 10 favorite activities using a yoga ball!

Some of these activities can be done independently while others will need some assistance. These activities can be done with a variety of ages and modified to fit a variety of needs.

Get ready for some new activity ideas that you can try TODAY!

Check out our Gross Motor Skills Activity Skills Course - an entire video library of therapeutic activities using simple pieces of equipment (yoga/therapy ball, Bosu, hula hoop, and scooter board) that you can use immediately!

Make sure to check out all of our links below!

We’d love to answer your questions on the podcast! Fill out this form -> https://harkla.typeform.com/to/ItWxQNP3

Links

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10 Therapeutic Activities With A Yoga Ball

Yoga balls, also known as exercise or stability balls, have become popular for occupational therapy and rehabilitation. These large inflatable balls provide a range of benefits, including improving balance, coordination, and core strength.

Furthermore, yoga balls can be incorporated into a range of therapeutic exercises, aiding recovery from injuries or managing chronic ailments. Next, we will explore ten therapeutic exercises that can be performed using a yoga ball.

Sit On The Therapy Ball And Play Catch

Your child can perform this exercise independently by holding a smaller ball, rotating their trunk left, and then bouncing and catching the ball on the floor. They should rotate to the right, bounce, and catch the ball. 

Alternatively, if facing a wall, they can throw the ball against it and catch it while maintaining an upright seated position on the therapy ball. This activity enhances postural control and core strength.

Partner Activity With A Therapy Ball

Two therapy balls are ideal for this activity, but one works if you don't have a second. Ensure the child's feet can touch the ground by adjusting their position so their knees, hips, and elbows form 90-degree angles for a 90-90-90 posture.

The child pairs up with a partner and stands back-to-back, each holding an engaging object like a ball or beanbag. They twist to pass the object to each other, tracking its movement with their eyes. 

If a child or a participant experiences discomfort such as dizziness or nausea, mitigating these symptoms with proprioceptive input is crucial. It improves head rotation and boosts vestibular rotary input, which enhances alertness and eye coordination.

Supine On A Therapy Ball

Begin by positioning the child on the therapy ball and offer support by stabilizing their legs at the knees or lower thighs. For those with greater instability, offer support at the hips. The child will then gently lean back over the ball into a supine position, effectively inverting themselves. 

From their starting position, they extend their arm downward to retrieve an object from the ground, like a beanbag or stuffed toy. This movement necessitates activating their core muscles and flexing their neck to tuck in their chin while sitting up.

Therapy Ball Wall Activities

We'll start by sitting on a ball in front of a wall. Use one foot to write on the wall - spell words, draw shapes, or follow visuals like an infinity loop with your foot. Switch feet for safety and stability. 

This exercise boosts postural control by challenging you to balance on one foot on the ball. For a more straightforward modification, stabilize the ball with a peanut or therapy ball with legs or place it in a toy ring.

Have the child lie prone on the ball, with their feet planted on the ground, as they use their hands to draw or trace patterns on the wall. This technique maintains interaction with the wall and ball and gently stimulates the Landau reflex by ensuring the feet remain in contact with the ground, enhancing balance and coordination.

One Foot Pickup

Scatter lightweight, small items like pom poms or crumpled paper around. While sitting on the therapy ball, motivate the child to pick up these items with their toes and then transfer them to their hands or a nearby bucket.

Alternating feet is crucial to engage both sides evenly. This exercise significantly improves postural control and balance while also aiding in developing the Babinski reflex and enhancing tactile processing.

Rainbow Partner Ball Pass 

Begin by transferring the ball from hands to feet, executing an arc miming a rainbow. Initiate the movement with the ball in their hands; they should then set it down, bending over to lift it across their body using their hands. 

Swiftly move their feet to catch the ball, and by engaging their core, gently lower the ball to the ground with their feet. This sequence completes one iteration of the rainbow pass.

Once you finish the single, you can pass it to your partner, positioning it so that your heads are adjacent or your feet align. This passing action transforms it into a fun, social activity where you collaborate to create what resembles a double rainbow.

Imagine participants side by side, moving the ball with their feet, hands on the ground, and hips lifted to pass it. The challenge is for the partner to catch and place the ball using only their feet, requiring excellent coordination and balance.

Therapy Ball Walkouts

Begin with your child positioned on their stomach atop the ball. Encourage them to roll forward, transferring their weight to their hands and walking their hands forward while the ball stays beneath their legs.

They should walk their hands back to the starting position at a certain point. A peanut ball is advisable for beginners as it provides additional support and minimizes the risk of slipping.

Encouraging your child to engage with and overcome movement challenges enhances their motor skills and improves their problem-solving abilities. To increase the difficulty of the exercise, incorporate a crunch.

This involves extending their hands forward, positioning the ball under their shins, drawing their knees to their chest, straightening their legs, and walking their hands back. Additionally, boosting the inflation level of the ball decreases its stability, thus offering a more challenging workout.

Supine Ball Kicks

Begin with the child lying on their back in a supine position and position the therapy ball to enable the child to raise their legs by drawing their knees to their chest. Next, softly throw the ball toward the child.

Misses are common due to the child's age, yet the joy and motivation from this activity are priceless. This activity efficiently enhances primitive reflexes and core strength and boosts timing and sequencing skills. 

Sitting On A Therapy Ball And Crashing Backward

Place the child on the ball and gently encourage them to bounce, ensuring a soft landing area is available for safe backward falls. This exercise becomes particularly captivating for young children when combined with the song "Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed." 

It enhances their understanding of cause and effect and teaches them about counting and sequencing. Crucially, it helps address the Moro reflex, an involuntary reaction to feeling like they're falling. 

If a child seems nervous, anxious, or hesitant about falling backward, and this apprehension persists after several tries, it might suggest a retained Moro reflex. Incorporating this activity into their daily routine can be highly beneficial for mitigating this.

Walking The Therapy Ball

While lying on the floor with the child's feet near the wall, take a therapy ball and use the feet to walk the ball up the wall. The aim is to maneuver the ball upwards, left, or right, using only the feet to prevent it from falling. 

You can modify this activity by replacing the therapy ball with a balloon or a playground ball. For younger children, opt for a ball easily marked with dry-erase markers or embellished with safe stickers, enhancing engagement and fun.

Encourage the child to rotate the ball to tap the stickers or letters with their feet. Additionally, to enhance the challenge, children can lift their heads off the ground, cross their arms over their chest, and engage their neck muscles to strengthen neck flexion and encourage a TLR forward pattern. 

Walking, crawling, or engaging in animal walks generally involves a reciprocal leg movement pattern, significantly enhancing bilateral coordination. This method effectively addresses coordination challenges by having children roll a ball along the wall using alternating feet, improving bilateral coordination skills.

Conclusion

Therapy balls provide a fun and effective way to boost children's development, enhancing motor skills, reflexes, and coordination. Incorporating these exercises into daily routines can significantly support their growth and maturation.

Encouraging kids to engage in these activities independently builds self-confidence and problem-solving skills. Therefore, see a therapy ball not just as exercise gear but as a gateway to endless developmental opportunities for your child.

 

 

 

BORING, BUT NECESSARY LEGAL DISCLAIMERS

While we make every effort to share correct information, we are still learning. We will double check all of our facts but realize that medicine is a constantly changing science and art. One doctor / therapist may have a different way of doing things from another. We are simply presenting our views and opinions on how to address common sensory challenges, health related difficulties and what we have found to be beneficial that will be as evidenced based as possible. By listening to this podcast, you agree not to use this podcast as medical advice to treat any medical condition in either yourself or your children. Consult your child’s pediatrician/ therapist for any medical issues that he or she may be having. This entire disclaimer also applies to any guests or contributors to the podcast. Under no circumstances shall Rachel Harrington, Harkla, Jessica Hill, or any guests or contributors to the podcast, as well as any employees, associates, or affiliates of Harkla, be responsible for damages arising from use of the podcast.

Keep in mind that we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.


This podcast should not be used in any legal capacity whatsoever, including but not limited to establishing “standard of care” in a legal sense or as a basis for expert witness testimony. No guarantee is given regarding the accuracy of any statements or opinions made on the podcast.

Jessica Hill, COTA/L & Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC
Jessica Hill, COTA/L & Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC

Rachel Harrington, COTA/l, AC, CPRCS, and Jessica Hill, COTA/L, CPRCS are Harkla's in-house Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants (COTA) and Certified Primitive Reflex Clinical Specialists. They have been working with children for over 6 years in outpatient settings. They specialize in creating easy-to-digest, actionable content that families can use to help their child's progress at home. Jessica and Rachel are the in-house experts, content creators, and podcast hosts at Harkla! To learn more about Jessica and Rachel, visit the Harkla About Us Page. Make sure to listen to their weekly podcast, All Things Sensory by Harkla for actionable, fun advice on child development.


1 Response

Jackie
Jackie

May 09, 2024

Loved this video! Would love similar content with other therapeutic equipment (therabands, scooter boards, anything!)

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