The How-To Guide to Using Lycra at Home

Guest Authored By Lauren Abry, OTD, OTR/L

Lycra is a type of stretchy, spandex fabric that is loved by pediatric occupational therapists and children, alike. This material can be easily incorporated into play-based activities within the clinic and home environment and offers numerous benefits! 

Benefits of using Lycra (Lopiccolo, 2019) 

Incorporating Lycra into play-based activities offers numerous benefits to the child. Moving the body within Lycra provides resistance to help elongate, activate, and strengthen the muscle groups in the arms, legs and coreThe child needs to hold his body in position as the Lycra provides movement beneath him, which allows for opportunities to strengthen and stabilize multiple joints including the shoulders, arms and hands. The constant need to adapt to the instability of the Lycra helps the child improve his balance, fluidity, and coordination of movements. Sheets of Lycra can also be used to provide deep pressure and increase body awareness. Improvements in strength, balance, coordination, and body awareness can positively impact a child’s participation in play, academics, and activities of daily living, such as dressing and simple chores. 

Activities using Lycra sheets and tubular Lycra (Lopiccolo, 2019) 

  • Sheets of Lycra can be suspended underneath a sturdy table using bungee cords to create a hammock that the child can climb into and lay within. Using Lycra in this way provides deep pressure to help calm the child and improve overall sensory integration. 
  • Tubular Lycra can be attached to a door frame or weighed down to create a tunnel on the floor or wall-to-wall for the child to climb through. Using Lycra to create tunnels decreases visual stimulation and increases sensations in the body to improve body awareness. 
  • The child can crawl through the tunnel, complete animal walk through the tunnel, or push a therapy ball from one end to the next. Adding items, such as pillows, underneath the tunnel will provide the child with obstacles to climb over.  
  • Tubular Lycra can be used to create a ball pit bag for the child to explore. After tying the end of the tubular Lycra, the bag is filled with plastic ball pit balls, stuffed animals, small toys, etc. The child can sit on top of the bag to provide additional sensory input or crawl within the bag to locate hidden items. 
  • Tubular Lycra can also be wrapped around the child’s mattress to be used as a bedsheet. The Lycra will provide deep pressure, which is calming to the body and can help the child relax at bedtime. Please talk to your child’s occupational therapist to see if this is recommended for your child’s bedtime routine! 

Where can you buy Lycra? 

  • Lycra material can be bought, by the yard, from local fabric stores or from online retailers. The material can be bought in large sheets or in tubular form to create tunnels. 
  • Online retailers such as Amazon sell “Lycra by the yard” and “tubular Lycra by the yard” in a variety of colors! 
  • Lycra bed sheets and other Lycra equipment can be bought using the website: sensorytherapyshop.com 

References 

Lopiccolo, A. (2019). The #KingOfSwings hands on sensorimotor workshop. Sensory Digest.