Bicycle Riding Therapy
Retorno provides an innovative therapy by means of bike riding. The program is directed by Erez Cohen Goichman, who has been the coordinator of Retorno’s sports program for ten years.
Therapeutic bike riding is found to be very effective in healing emotional and cognitive issues. Adam Hayot, a bike riding therapist and coach, claims that bike riding has the ability to affect a child’s self-esteem and way of thinking.
“On a physical level the child experiences body strengthening, coordination development, sharpening of the senses, and a heightened ability to concentrate. For example, children who suffer from ADHD (attention deficit disorder) may find it hard to concentrate for ten minutes on a regular basis. However, when bike riding, they succeed. On a mental level, riding a bike requires facing many fears and overcoming obstacles. Every path, every rock presents a new challenge, and what was once impossible becomes possible. This progress becomes apparent very quickly.”
Most important is the emotional challenge. Throughout the training a relationship begins to form between the coach and child – a connection of trust and confidence, which transforms the bike-riding lesson into a powerful life experience.” As the relationship is built, the child begins to feel confident and share his/her struggles with me,” explains Hayot. “At the beginning it happens on a biking level: if there is a difficulty while riding, such as a steep incline, together we find a way to cope with the situation without giving up. With time we begin to talk about life’s challenges that he/she is facing… the essence of bike riding is the flow. The landscape is constantly changing: ups, downs, stairs, difficult climbs, boulders – just like life. When faced with a challenge you can overcome it with much strength and break the rock, but you can also overcome another way, a gentle way. This is something I emphasize with the children when I tell them, ‘Be soft, accept, become part of the landscape, raise your eyes and look ahead, don’t focus on the problem alone, rather try and understand the entire path.’”
Our bike-riding program treats children with physical disabilities as well. One of the recognized trainers in this field is Yossi Kat, who works with children and youth struggling with various disabilities, such as autism, delayed development, cerebral palsy, and motor difficulties. “They discover a new world,” says Kat. “A child with disabilities who mounts a bike discovers freedom. It’s something impossible to describe. For the first time, he or she feels independent. These are kids who are constantly being taken care of, and suddenly they are able to do things by themselves…”
Professor Solomon Weintraub from Tel Aviv University, head of the children’s orthopedic wing at the Dana hospital, recommends bike riding to many parents of children with disabilities. “It improves the child’s balance and coordination, and builds confidence. These things are crucial to every child, especially children with motor difficulties.”
“Watching a kid riding a bike with a huge grin is the most thrilling feeling possible,” says Kat. “For some children, riding a bike is like climbing Mount Everest, and fulfilling that dream is the most joyous experience.”Please share this post!