The IMPORTANCE of Superman and Silly Bug!

During an occupational therapy initial evaluation, as well as throughout ongoing treatment sessions, a child’s ability to maintain two Girl doing a superman exerciseanti-gravity positions is observed. These two positions are named Superman (prone extension) and Silly Bug (supine flexion). Each position observes how the child moves his body (e.g., body awareness and motor planning), his strength and endurance to maintain the position and his ability to follow directions and attend to a challenging and novel task. Below are the directions on how to assume both Superman and Silly Bug.  The approximate norms which should be seen for children of various ages are shown as well.

Superman (Prone Extension):

Lying on belly with arms and legs extended and lifted off of the floor (Note: a child will bend his knees/elbows to compensate. If necessary, provide touch cues to the legs to get him to straighten them out).

Age Length of time (seconds)
4 18
5 31-60
6 63-77
7 90-119
8+ 120-138

Silly Bug (Supine Flexion):
Lying on back with arms crossed over chest, legs bent and head lifted off of the floor. The child then flexes his legs and lifts his head from the floor (like a “crunchie” position).

Age Length of time (seconds)
4 10
5 25
6 46
7 68
8+ 88

Overall, it should be noted that while the norms may seem high, children should be able to hold these positions for as long as an adult can, possibly longer. This expectation can be attributed to the fact that the functioning of the vestibular system declines as one ages. This is why activities such as roller coasters may become less preferred or less entertaining for adults as they no longer crave the intense vestibular input (unless they practice positions of inversion, such as yoga or pilates on a regular basis. With that being said, it is extremely important for parents to practice these anti-gravity positions with their children at home, as well as in the clinic, in order to see the greatest amount of progress in the child’s strength, endurance, body awareness, motor planning and vestibular processing. LOVE WHAT YOU READ?  CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO OUR BLOGS VIA EMAIL!

12 replies
  1. Shelley Mannell
    Shelley Mannell says:

    thanks for the norms for kids for these activities. May I also add that the contribution of an effective relationship between inner core and outer core musclulature is another key to the success of these activities. the integration of motor and sensory control is essential for anti-gravity skills. For more on the Core contribution to prone extension, check out “Where is Superman” at

  2. Thea
    Thea says:

    I have used your norms in the past and love that you have such an easy to read chart! Unfortunately, the charts are no longer readable on the site. Is there anyway that you can repost them?

  3. Hannah
    Hannah says:

    Amanda, I love this post and have referenced it many times! Strangely enough, this time the tables with the actual norms are not showing up. Do you have another copy of them I could see?


    • Timothy Mucha
      Timothy Mucha says:

      Hello Hannah,

      We are so excited to hear that you reference this post frequently! It’s great to know that it’s so beneficial.

      I apologize for the inconvenience with the tables. I’ve gone ahead and made a quick update to them and they are now visible again.

      Thank you for your patience as we fixed this.


  4. Ashley
    Ashley says:

    Hi! I was wondering how you calculated these norms? Is there a research reference I can cite for these norms? Thanks!

    • Mary Kate Mulry
      Mary Kate Mulry says:

      Hi Ashley,

      I’m Mary Kate, an OT here at NSPT.

      After doing some research, here’s what I found:

      Prone extension norms can be found here:
      Gregory-Flock, J.L. & Yerxa, E.J. (1984). Standardization of the Prone Extension Postural Test on Children Ages 4 Through 8. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 38, 187-194. doi:10.5014/ajot.38.3.187

      Supine Flexion:
      I don’t have an article to reference; however, this comes from a packet we use for clinical observations which is from Erma I Blanche and Pediatric Therapy Network “Summary of Selected Observations.” Blanche has a book that is title Combining Neurodevelopmental Treatment and Sensory Integration Principles: An Approach to Pediatric Therapy and although I don’t have it, the norms may be listed there.

    • Dana Pais
      Dana Pais says:

      Hello Ashley,

      The supine flexion norms are from Pediatric Therapy Network’s Observations Based on Sensory Integration Theory by Erna Imperatore Blanche, PhD, OTR, FAOTA.


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