Shoulder Exercises For Kids

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These shoulder exercises for kids can help to improve their shoulder girdle stability. This may aid in developing their fine motor skills.

Check out the helpful info and easy exercises on this page that may help your child improve shoulder stability and strength.

Click on the quick links below to view individual exercises or just scroll through them all!

 Before you start

 Easy Shoulder Girdle Stability Exercises:

 Classroom exercises for shoulder stability:

 More Shoulder Exercises

Before You Start!

  • Be cautious!
    Make sure that you and your child are medically and physically fit to carry out these exercises. If your child is in therapy, please check with your child's therapist before commencing with any of my exercises and activities.

  • Motivate your child!
    If your child is reluctant to do “exercises”, call them by another name - I call them circus tricks and we do a few circus tricks at a time, it’s a great motivator for children with poor gross motor skills.

  • Make it a game!
    That means taking turns, which means that your child can get to be the leader in follow-my-leader, or the circus trainer, and that you, the parent or teacher, can get to do the exercises as well. My kids are very motivated to do even the ones they find demanding, if they know that they will get a turn to be in charge. Ham it up and make them laugh!

  • Quality is better than quantity!
    All exercises for kids should be done slowly with as much control as possible - rather have your child do one or 2 good repetitions than many sloppy ones.

  • This is not therapy!
    The advice and learning activities on this page are NOT a replacement for evaluation and treatment by an occupational therapist. They are meant to enhance your child's normal development.
    Please contact your health professional if you are concerned about your child’s development, and read my
    disclaimer before proceeding.

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Easy Shoulder Exercises For Kids

Leopard Crawl

kids leopard crawl exerciseA good leopard crawl position
A poor leopard crawl position

If you are physically fit, then demonstrate this by lying on your tummy and pulling yourself along with your forearms. Encourage your child to not splay the arms too wide, or to use the legs too much - the leopard crawl should work the upper body the most.

This is a great obstacle course or follow-my-leader activity (especially if an adult is involved!). Doing it under tables and chairs is a great incentive, and as an outdoor activity, it lends itself well to a jungle or army theme party!

The photo on the right shows the child splaying his arms and thus not working the shoulder girdle muscles as effectively.

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Pushing Games

Pushing exercises encourage your child to activate the shoulder girdle muscles through pushing hard.

Encourage your child to keep the elbows slightly bent, so the arms are not straight. This helps the shoulder girdle muscles to work most effectively.

Take note of the difference between effective and ineffective positioning, then have fun trying out the activities that follow!

Good Positioning
Poor Positioning 1
Poor Positioning 2

Try a Wall Push or a People Push - my kids always love trying to push an adult (sometimes we let them win!).

pushing games for shoulder girdle strengthWall Push

Tell your child the wall is falling down, and ask your child to push it to keep it up!

You can have your child push for a count of 5 or 10 seconds, run around the garden and then come back for another push.

Make sure your child has only the hands on the wall (no forearms, trunk or shoulders), and try and keep elbows slightly bent.

People Push

For the People Push, have both pushers put their hands together as shown in the photo above, with both pushers keeping elbows slightly bent.

Stand with one foot behind the other and on the count of 3, PUSH each other as hard as possible until one of you moves backwards. (Cue a sibling to let a younger child win some!)

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Starting Position
Walking the Ball
Crossing Hands

Have your child crouch facing the wall, putting the hands on the ball.

Have your child "walk" the ball up from the floor with his/her hands until the ball is at shoulder level.

Then "walk" the ball along the length of wall, keeping it at the same height. Repeat a few times. Your child's hands should cross over as the ball moves along.

Aim for slow controlled movements – the child who wants to do it quickly can sometimes be compensating for the lack of stability needed to do it slowly in a controlled way!

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Classroom Shoulder Stability Exercises

These are great shoulder girdle exercises for kids to do before starting any writing sessions. They are also good to help fidgety kids focus as they give great proprioceptive input!

Hand Pushes

Place palms together, with elbows out and forearms held horizontally as in the photo.

Now have your child push the hands together as hard as possible and hold for 5 seconds.

Repeat a few times.

Chair Push Ups

Have your child place hands on either side of the chair and PUSH, until his/her bottom rises off the chair.

Hold for 3 - 5 counts.

Ask your child to try and lift his/her feet off the floor and hold them off while doing the push-ups.

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More Shoulder Exercises

All of these exercises and more can be found in my Shoulder Exercises for Kids E-book.

Check it out - photos, instructions and helpful tips in a nifty PDF download!

The shoulder girdle muscles are often considered to be part of the "core muscles".

So why not check out my Core Exercises as well, or some of my other gross motor pages?

Wondering how doing shoulder exercises for kids can help improve fine motor skills? Hop over to read about the Essential Bases for Fine Motor Development.

Thanks for visiting my site! I hope you found this page helpful!

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