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Using Sidesitting to Strengthen Trunk Lateral Flexors

This exercise takes advantage of simple biomechanics. If a child sits side sit with his knee spread as wide as possible, the pelvis is fairly level. As you have the child put his knees closer together, the pelvis becomes more tilted. When the knees are completely on top of each other in side sit, the pelvis is very angled. The more angled the pelvis is, the more challenging a position the side sit is to hold. More lateral flexion is required to maintain sitting with a more asymmetrical pelvis. This exercise requires lateral flexion strength but also internal/external rotation and hip abduction/adduction strength depending on the leg referenced. I have a child typically start with his knees very wide. I see what kind of support the child requires to maintain this position and for how long. I start with 2 hands held, then 1 hand held, the 2 hands propping on the floor, then 1 hand propping on the floor, then hands free. Once a child can hold a position for 10 seconds, have the child move his knees a little closer. Sometimes instead of counting to 10, I ask the child to clap his hands 10 times. I continue until the child can no longer hold the position. I start this kind of activity on the floor. I also do the exact same activity with the child sitting on the trampoline, rockerboard, the ball or even a platform swing so I can bounce/rock/swing the child 10 times to make it more dynamic. If I am performing the activity on a dynamic surface, I usually find what level of leg overlap is challenging. I make sure the child can hold the position for 10 seconds. Then I say, “I’m going to bounce (or rock/swing) you 10 times small. See if you can hold it without falling over.” If the child is successful with small bounces/rocks/swings, I progress the medium, large and then crazy. This usually ends in hysterics and begging and pleading from the child to do it again.

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