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Exercises You Can Do On The Playground

Who says parents can’t get a workout in while their little one is playing outside? Here are the top exercises I recommend that parents can do on the playground – no extra equipment needed. From abdominal exercises for prevention of low back pain, to postural stretches and exercises, to knee strengthening maneuvers, I cover them all – check out the video below.

(For reps and sets, typically I like to do 3 sets of 10, but use higher reps for more endurance and lower reps for harder exercises.)

  1. Tricep dips

Sit on a ledge and push yourself off while hanging on to the edge with your hands. Be sure to keep your shoulder blades squeezed together, and elbows pointing directly behind you. Dip by bending your elbow but DO NOT SHRUG your shoulders as you dip! Bend your knees for easy resistance, straighten your knees for more difficulty.

2. Rows

My favorite for arm strength and posture. Hold on a handle and slide your weight underneath it. The more you are beneath the handles, the harder this will be. Squeeze your shoulder blades together until you form a wrinkle between them. Keep your shoulders from shrugging. Pull yourself up and then lower and repeat.

3. Calf raises

Find a step on the play structure and hang your heels off. Keeping your knees straight, let your heels dip below the step, and raise up onto the balls of your foot. Hold on lightly to a bar or the side for some stability.

4. Step up and kicks

Find a shin-level step or ledge and step up onto it using one leg. The other leg will kick up, knees bent. Squeeze your glutes of the leg that is standing.

5. Pushups

On the same ledge, put your hands out wide at chest level and do a pushup by bending your elbows. Make sure your back is stiff straight and not sagging by tensing your abdominals.

6. Climbing balance

Climbing poles are not just for the kids – they’re great for you to work your balance and agility on as well. Join in on the fun!

7. Wall slides

Another big favorite of mine that I give to my patients with neck and shoulder pain is the wall slide. Stand against a wall (find an unused portion of wall where kids play wall ball) with your back fully pressed against it. Squeeze your shoulder blades such that your elbows touch the wall. If the backs of your hands don’t touch, don’t worry – keep doing this exercise and you might be able to in the future. Slide your elbows up and down on the wall. If the wall is too rough to slide, let them float next to the wall, but maintain the same parallel plane to keep this exercise effective.

8. Isometric hip abduction

One great way to work your gluteus medius (weak on a lot of people and clutch in helping knee pain) is to press the side of your knee against the wall while standing on one leg. Keep the knee bent and slightly behind your hip. Squeeze against the wall for 3 seconds. Keep your hips level.

9. Calf stretching

For those parents who are tired of standing, or for those of you who have calf tightness and achilles or plantar fascia problems, stretch your calf by pushing against the wall. You can even pedal while stretching to make this dynamic and less static.

10. Plank roll out on the swing

My version of the ab roll out. Put your arms out on a swing in a plank position. Keep your abs tight, and don’t let your spine sag or hump up. Slowly let your arms slide away from you, and when you feel like you could be losing your form, bring your arms back. This is a tough exercise because of the perturbation from the swing (great for challenging and rehabbing shoulders though!), so if you want to make it easier you can put your elbows on the swing seat instead of your hands.

11. Pec stretch

Stretch your pectorals against a wall or pole on the playground.  Keep elbow at or slightly below shoulder level, keep your shoulder back and away from angling forward. Then step away and rotate away from the pole. You should feel a stretch in a pectoral muscles. This is great for those who hunch over at work all day at a computer.

12. Wall sits

Back to the wall, slide down until your knees are bent at 90 degrees. Hold isometrically for 30 seconds. For more resistance, you can hold on to a backpack, your kid or anything heavier if you can handle it!

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Alice Holland, DPT

Doctor of Physical Therapy, Director at Stride Strong Physical Therapy
Alice earned her Doctorate of Physical Therapy from USC in 2007, and have practiced Physical Therapy for 12+ years in the Outpatient Orthopedic Setting. Certified in ASTYM, she also has been a featured expert on Physical Therapy on numerous publications including health.com, healthline.com and yahoo.com.
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Ana Lucia Pinheiro
Ana Lucia Pinheiro
02:18 20 Oct 17
This place is amazing. I am so happy I found Stride Strong PT. Alice pays attention to all of the details, she watches every single move I make, my posture, and the way I move through every exercise. She is very knowledgeable, she was able to pin-point the problems in my back and she has a plan to help me become stronger where I need. The place is brand new, huge, and has nice exercise machines. I tried a few physical therapists in the area, and Alice is TOP, second to none, and I feel super lucky to have found her. Highly recommended!!
Prashant Gupta
Prashant Gupta
01:00 02 Oct 17
Dr. Alice at Stride Strong is one of the best PTs I have come across. Her attention to detail and assessment of the root cause of injury is very good. She is excellent in evaluating pain patterns and giving a training schedule for a rehab & injury prevention, she is extremely knowledgeable. I would strongly recommend Stride Strong to anyone looking for PT. It is easily the best PT clinics in Hillsboro area.
steven zollin
steven zollin
20:57 14 Sep 17
Highly recommend Stride Strong Physical Therapy , Alice showed me proper form to assist in recovery with my shoulder and is very knowledgeable.
Lindsay Nied
Lindsay Nied
23:33 18 Dec 17
I recently had a massage from Joel at the Hillsboro location. He was able to work on an ongoing issue I have been experiencing with my back after a sports injury, and I left feeling so much better. The whole facility looked incredible, and everyone I met was friendly and welcoming. I would highly recommend Stride Strong for massage and physical therapy.
JoAnn Hatch
JoAnn Hatch
08:20 08 Nov 17
Dr. Sydney is by far the absolute best physical therapist I've worked with ever! Her expertise in designing highly effective and efficient exercise plans is beyond compare. I feel so much better as my strength and function increases. She comes up with the most brilliant and fun ideas to motivate. To my delight she even offered to come to my home in Vancouver and work with me on my own equipment including a Stott Pilates Reformer. Talk about going above and beyond! Couldn't be more grateful I found her!!!
Clare Perry
Clare Perry
21:58 23 Oct 17
A full hour of a dedicated PT professional's time without aides or techs? That's just one of the things that sets this clinic apart from others. Competent, professional, and amiable, Dr. Alice Holland and her team are the best in the area. While I generally see them at the Cedar Mill Clinic on Cornell, situational constraints took me to their new Hillsboro clinic today near Intel Jones Farm. Beautifully furnished, spacious with easy parking and access. May you continue to grow and thrive, Stride Strong!
Joyce Heideman
Joyce Heideman
08:28 11 May 18
After foot surgery I went to Stride Strong for therapy with Alice Holland. She helped me reach my full mobility again by continuously introducing new and challenging exercises. The entire staff is friendly and professional. They are always on time and do not rush. I look forward to doing 1/2 marathons again and riding my recumbent trike. Thank you Stride Strong for your care and high level of expertise.
Suad Daher
Suad Daher
20:48 28 Feb 18
The best physical therapy ever. Both JP and Sydney were a great PT, they helped me understand how I can help treat my injury and how it may have caused. And also they informed about so many techniques that I can use to help my injuries or any other injuries I get in the near future. They are both friendly and nice to talk too, and verbunformative. And there is also Krystal, she is the best front desk receptionist ever, she is nice and friendly and can easily manage your schedule based on the patients comfort if they want to schedule or not. She can help and she replies fast to any patients email. And she is easy to talk to. Thank you Stride Strong Physical Therapy.
Amanda O'Rourke
Amanda O'Rourke
21:38 15 Jun 18
In just a month I've seen great progress! I've been incorporating the exercises taught to me into my daily workout routine. Im very happy with my continued results.
Albert Szal
Albert Szal
23:43 10 Jun 18
Mary Szal here: I've had three sessions with Brittany at the Hillsboro location. I can say that she has been the most effective and instructive physical therapist I've ever experienced. Her personality, energy, knowledge and results are top notch.
Osa Phiangdae
Osa Phiangdae
00:05 22 Mar 18
Awesome place for PT. Hillsboro location has plenty of parking and very spacious. I had the pleasure to work mostly with Dr. Alice Holland and JP. I came in with a shoulder injury and thank goodness they understood what I was going through. They are the best of what they do, I would recommend Stride Strong to anyone who needs PT.
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