How Supported Kneeling Helps Children Build Leg Muscles

Noah is rocking out in supported kneeling today. I had no idea all of the different positions children born with Down syndrome had to work on in order to learn how to move their bodies the right way. They have to go through these various positions to help build strength in certain muscles before advancing to the next stage.

1 Must Have Book For Parents Of Children With Down Syndrome

Gross Motors Skills in Children with Down Syndrome: A Guide for Parents and Professionals by Patricia Winders is by far one of my favorite down syndrome resources. It gives me the guidance I want when I am confused in physical or occupational therapy, or what to work on when I get frustrated with certain tasks. It shows me why I need to slow down and let Noah go through the motions that he needs to move forward. That next stage for us is going to be crawling if we can get there. (Note to readers, this video is from October and if you follow us on Facebook you know that we reached that milestone recently). It also comes with handy check lists, which every mother loves.

Supported Kneeling…What’s The Purpose?

supported kneeling physical therapy Down syndrome

Noah's physical therapist demonstrating supported kneeling

So why is supported kneeling important ? As you can find out in the above book it builds strength in the thighs, buttocks and stomach. Holding the knees together and putting pressure on the legs with knees bent prepares the legs for standing. Once they are stable in supported kneeling you start working on going up and down, so from sitting on your heels to pushing up.  Again this is strengthening those muscles. Noah is working a little bit harder in this video as he is actually going to the side and isolating a leg to build strength. (We’re so proud of this little boy.)

A Quick And Easy Supported Kneeling Exercise

baby down syndrome physical thearpy kneeling

Patricia gives lots of great activities to do to help a child born with Down syndrome though each of the developmental stages. The one for supported kneeling is to put your child in front of the sofa with the cusion removed. Place your child on their knees in front of the sofa with their arms on top of the seat of the sofa. Sit behind your child. Make sure the legs stay together and support them if they cannot hold this position. Put toys on the sofa seat and encourage them to play. Over time they will start to move up and down. It’s great exercise, but remember you should only do this if your child’s physical therapist has given you the ok.)

For those of you who are frustrated with therapy and want to know what you need to be doing at home this book is a must have for your library.  I cannot recommend it enough.

Are you surprised at what muscles are needed prior to being able to do a task? Have you observed your child’s physical therapist using supported kneeling on your child?

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  1. My son, Jacob with Ds is 14 y/o. When he was 3 or 4 and couldn’t jump we tried O.T. 
    Then we put him in swimming thinking that would help his leg muscles grow stronger. We finally put him in gymnastics. You should see him jump on the trampoline today.
     Anything you can do to help them advance! 

    • @60598ef0cb20c3f60a5f884950b8ee56:disqus That’s sounds awesome. You sound post some pictures for us. 🙂 You can even post a picture right here in the comments.  

  2. Renae Williams says

    another reason i love this…i had no idea it took all of those muscles including stomach just to walk!!! i always learn somthing from this site!!! keep up the good work!!!

  3. Another “suppported knee” exercise is to sit on your knees with you buttocks on your calves or heels.  Place your childs knees between yours keeping theirs together as demostrated in the picture above.  Holding under the arms with them facing OUT, place them in a hands forward/push-up position and allow them to strengthen their arms.  Lift them back towards you into a vertical position.  This works both the abductors and adductors (specifically in the lower spine area) which increases core strength and prevents the “turtleing” of the hip muscles becoming overstretched.

  4. Melanie Ward says

    We were given that book at our very first DS Clinic visit!  I agree, it is such a wonderful resource! I always refer back to it when Syd seems stuck in a phase!  This was such a great post!  🙂

    • @f1d87d66d197b438b1b8bc9a5aa91d87:disqus That’s awesome that they gave that book to you at the Down syndrome clinic! Thanks for the kind words about the post…I agree, my wife does do a great job. I love her. 🙂 

  5. I think it is important to stress the difference between the “supported knee” and the dreaded “W” sitting!

  6. Sharon Ingraham says

    My grandson Evan goes to occupational, physical and speech therapy several times a week.  His Mom tries to explain it to me, but I don’t get to see what goes on in his therapy sessions.  Your posts and videos really help me understand how beneficial this therapy is to Evan.  Thanks and keep up the good work, NoahsDad!! 

    • @88e6936bdc4a698f34d8b19551826c81:disqus Thanks so much for the comment. I’m glad we can be a resource for you guys. 🙂 How old is Even? It sounds like his parents are doing a great job! 🙂 

      …..and his grandmother too. 🙂

  7. Langlang08082011 says

    Hi, it’s so sad that here in the philippines we dont have such kind of therapy or even a bond of friendship just like what you guys here are having

    • @9ec573e9a53f13f3fa6551bbe545ce71:disqus Thanks so much for your post. How old is your son or daughter? We would love to help post some resources for you in your area. Do you guys have any sort of therapy at all?  

  8. Trudy Callan says

    Thank you so much for doing this post. I really look forward to these types of posts because I want to learn as much as I can in order to help my baby. We have visits in our home from our ECI OT three to four times a month. She is wonderful, and I work Samantha in between visits. The resources you recommend and your posts and videos are an excellent supplement to what I am already doing. Anything you can share about what Noah is doing in therapy and how we can replicate that is much appreciated. I want to learn as much as I can, especially since it mostly depends on me since we don’t have a lot of therapy sessions. So, again, thank you!

    • @6e614280ea91600832366b5c084ee4fb:disqus Thanks Trudy! How old is your little one by the way? 
      I’m glad you are enjoying our posts on PT / OT. We have a lot of them on here, and trying to figure out a better way to organize them. 🙂

  9. Reuben’s physio wants him to climb before he walks! (not too sure if i do;)) i was trying to put up footage of him climbing but my phone wont let me for some reason?!! annoying…anyway she said if he can climb he will have no trouble walking! let the climbing begin! 😉 xx

    • Yah….! I agree. 🙂 He is going to be all over the place when he starts though. Can’t wait.

      By the way, if you have a video on youtube you can actually embed it in the comments right here. I haven’t done it before, so you should be the first one so we can both see what it looks like. 🙂

  10. I love this information.  Oliver doesn’t naturally put himself in this postion at all, so I know we have to work on it.  He likes to stand by a table, I think he thinks he getting stuff he isn’t supposed to have!  So this gives me some new ideas.  I hadn’t thought of it and was always told to avoid them sitting on their knees is the W position, so it never entered my mind to try this.  You guys are amazing.  Thanks for all the help.

    • @0a6a8a7d8f0574e1a52a7afa958b24d6:disqus Thanks so much, glad we could be helpful. How old is Oliver by the way? Noah also likes to folk on to things (like a chair, table,  etc) we are trying to get him to start cursing now. 🙂

  11. I am a pediatric PT in Connecticut, and I LOVE all of your positive PT posts.  Great, and accurate information goes a long way.  Sounds like you have an amazing team working with Noah.  Keep the PT posts coming!!!!

    • @b27643e642045ac641c1dd6b384557e9:disqus Thanks so much for your kind words. I’m glad a PT likes what we are doing. 🙂 
      What age group of people do you work with in your practice?  

  12. This is the area that my Tyler does not like. He hates being on his knees. we are lookig for any tips that work. He get PT once a week, also my husband and I work with hin everyday. But he refuses to be on his knees. Once he does it and learns it he is going to be all over the place. lol

  13. By the time my students get to the high school, most are no longer involved with physical therapy. For those that are physically able to, and somewhat independent, I sign them up for a physical education class every year, with parent approval. It becomes their physical therapy. The coaches are so good with them! They encourage them to be independent, and they get to collaborate with like peers (gen Ed). It is good exercise daily, and keeps the weight down as they mature into adults. I am hoping to implement a student aide (gen Ed) for the first time next year, to assist the coaches with my students as needed, kind of like a buddy system to make sure my more hands on students are sticking to task.

    • @1c724cf5d0394afc1b9d4c73f7b963dc:disqus I hope whatever school Noah gets to one day has a great buddy system. 🙂 
      I noticed you said you were a teacher. What sort of teacher are you by the way? 

  14. I am an OT and I love that book too!  Way to go Noah!  Sometime we have to get Colby and Noah together they seem very similar and they are so close in age!

    • @78841f971137207e0952411eebd2d517:disqus I totally agree! Where do you guys live? (We’re in Dallas.) That’s awesome that you are an OT, so great for Colby. 🙂  

  15. Scott and Vanessa says

    That is one of the first books we purchased when we finally arrived home with Enzo in our arms.  It was overwhelming at first and sat on the book shelf for a while, but once the routine of therapies became the “normal” routine in our life, I was able to grab the book and understand what was going on.  I hope other moms and dads understand what I am trying to say.  Have a “stick with it” attitude and that book will definitely be an added bonus to all the hard work your child is doing!

  16. Estherodu says

    I really look forward to reading your posts. i’m a Nigerian and over here its not easy to have all the therapy sessions; thus your posts are very educative. I have a child with down syndrome and he is crawlling now ,he is 15 months old.

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