Pool Play for Active Movement
By Bobbi Michels, PT, DPT
Kids Place West Pediatric Physical Therapist
Active movement in water, also known as aquatic therapy, is used to reduce pain, improve joint range of motion, provide cardiovascular conditioning, improve strength, and assist balance skills. As an added benefit, water provides support for low impact exercises while protecting joint integrity.
Here are some fun exercises to try in the pool:
Create various animal poses and walks
Jump like a bunny (small hops with both feet on pool floor), stand still like a flamingo, or jump big out of the water like a dolphin. You can walk fast taking big or tiny steps, backwards, sideways, or slowly taking big or tiny steps.
Act like a washing machine
The washing machine game can be played with several friends or just a few. This game begins with one person in the middle standing still like a statue. Others will hold hands and walk in a circle, going first to the left five times and then reverse to the right five times. Take turns being the one in the washing machine and the one working the machine (walking on the outside).
Ride a bike… in the pool!
This game is best done in the deeper end of the pool. Wrap a pool noodle under your arms and begin pedaling. Pretend to bicycle fast, and then slow, moving your legs in a large, exaggerated pedal motion. Have fun pretending to make wide and sharp turns in the water, going up and down hills, or just pedal around the pool moving into various water depth. Don’t forget to pedal backwards! Straddle sit on the pool noodle to make this task more challenging. What great general body strengthening for the whole family.
Balance on the kickboard
Try sitting on a kickboard in middle of pool but don’t move or fall off! This exercise works core strength, which will improve gait, balance, and help with coordination. To make it more challenging and fun, walk around the person sitting on the kickboard to provide turbulence.
Any type of movement in the pool will help strengthen muscles and improve balance. So jump in! Have fun, be active, and as always be safe*.
*Remember to watch your children around water at all times.