Joint compressions are often used as part of a sensory diet. They provide deep input that directly helps to develop proprioceptive awareness. These receptors located between the bones and in our connective tissue help our brain and body determine how much force we apply and where we are in space.
How to Perform
To perform joint compressions, place one hand on either side of the joint and apply firm pressure (think the amount you would use to apply a lid on your plastic ware) and release. Press and release up to 10 times (less if your child isn’t likely to stick out the whole process).
If your kiddo says “ow” it is probably because their brain and sensory system are not processing the input normally, not because you are pressing too hard. Lighten your pressure anyway and do not force them, rather encourage your child to try again, maybe while they are distracted with a favorite toy or activity.
Where to do Joint Compressions?
You can perform joint compression on any joint of the body, below are examples of proper performance for the fingers, wrist, elbow, hip, knee, ankle, and chest.
Fingers: you can perform joint compressions to each joint of the fingers by holding above and below the joint, use firm but gentle pressure pushing the joint together.
Wrist: have one hand just above the wrist at the forearm and one just below the wrist on the hand.
Elbow: place one hand on the upper arm and the other on the forearm. Line up the elbow to a straight position if possible (but not hyperextended!).
Hip: place one hand on the hip above the butt and the other on the upper leg.
Knee: place one hand above the knee on the upper leg and one on the lower leg just below the knee.
Ankle: have one hand above the ankle on the lower leg and one grasping the foot.
Chest: Place one hand over the sternum/chest and the other hand opposite on the back, use firm pressure pushing your hands towards each other.