As the weather gets colder, it can be harder to find activities to keep our busy kids entertained and moving. In this blog, we’ll cover what heavy work is, how it helps our bodies, and what kind of indoor activities we can incorporate to help keep our kids feel regulated.
Heavy work consists of movement that involves the larger muscles of the body and provides sensory input, particularly proprioception, to our bodies. Proprioception is related to the awareness we have of our body in space, and we receive this information through resistance to our muscles and joints. The input we receive through heavy work can be especially calming. Think about it – when we get a massage, we are receiving resistance to our muscles and joints and instantly feel calm!
Movement is important in our ability to learn, focus, attend, and participate in daily tasks. When we don’t have opportunities to move our bodies, we can struggle to remain calm and organised.
When we engage in heavy work, our proprioception improves, which in turn improves our regulation. Heavy work also improves our interoception, or the ability to feel what’s happening within our body. This can include feelings of hunger or thirst, pain, temperature, bathroom needs, and even more complex emotions and problem-solving. Our children who struggle with recognising when they’re in pain or hungry, or those who struggle with understanding their emotions, can benefit from improved interoception.
Heavy work also significantly impacts our motor development and functioning. With heavy work, we can improve our core strength, shoulder stability, wrist and hand strength, motor planning, and overall coordination. That’s why heavy work is a great activity for kids with decreased strength, low tone, or difficulties with coordinating their bodies for complex movements.
Heavy work can consist of a variety of movements. It can include carrying, pulling, pushing, jumping, chewing, squeezing, climbing, lifting, pinching, and more. The great thing about it is that many of these heavy work activities require little to no extra equipment and space!
Here are 20 ideas you can do at home to provide heavy work for toddlers or children.
NAPA Boston occupational therapist Miranda loves using a play-based approach when working with kids to reach their goals! In her free time, she enjoys drawing, and anything outdoors such as hiking, camping, and snowboarding. She hopes to visit all National Parks one day!
At NAPA Centre, we take an individualised approach to therapy because we understand that each child is unique with very specific needs. We embrace differences with an understanding that individualised programs work better. For this reason, no two therapeutic programs are alike. If your child needs our services, we will work closely with you to select the best therapies for them, creating a customised program specific to your child’s needs and your family’s goals. Let your child’s journey begin today by contacting us to learn more.