How Does Riding a Bike Help Developmental Skills?

Child Riding Bike

Child Riding Bike

Recently in the clinic I was asking a parent if her daughter has ever ridden an adaptive bicycle. She said she wasn’t sure but that she probably did in school. She then asked,

“what kinds of things would that help her with anyway?”

“So, I figured I’d answer it for all of you who may be wondering.”

1. Stretching (range of motion):

Tight hamstrings are a commonality for our kids…. and if we’re being honest…for us too. Riding an adaptive bicycle allows them to stretch their legs dynamically. It could even be a nice dynamic stretch for their hips too!

2. Strengthening:

Even if your child isn’t able to push through the full revolution, by practicing and activating those muscle groups they are strengthening. If they can initiate – see how many they can go before they get tired! If they can’t – practice downhill or give them touch cues at their legs to initiate.

3. Endurance:

Riding a bicycle is cardio! It will increase their heart rate and allow them to work on their endurance. If they only can last a few minutes … give them rest periods and try to increase the time each time they get out there!

4. New Learning:

Learning to riding a bike is flat out hard. Remember how long it took you to learn? A child with a neurological condition has to practice a skill thousands more times than we do to learn a new task. Your brain tells your body what to do and sometimes that’s not as easy as it sounds. Learning to ride a bike practices motor planning; Essentially, how your body tells you what to do which is such an important task for ALL developmental skills (planning out a movement pattern).

5. Reciprocal training:

Lastly, have you ever wondered why when you haven’t ridden your bike for YEARS you’re able to get back on it and still able to ride? (Maybe a little off balance 😉 ) Well, that’s actually because riding a bike and walking are using the same brain mechanisms to translate into a function. Riding a bike uses the same parts of your brain as you use to walk. SO since you’re walking on a day to day basis, you never lose the ability to ride your bike.


Interesting, right? If your child is learning how to walk with assistance, riding a bike can be a HUGE factor in gaining the ability to do so more independently. Even if your child isn’t quite close to that yet… the strengthening, stretching, learning, and all other aspects will still benefit them and its a great way to do a FUN workout.

Questions? Email me at christine@breakthroughptli.com and tell me what you think!

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Christine Astarita
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