Everyone knows the importance of exercise, especially for children.
Not only does it improve your cardiovascular health and bone density, but regular exercise from a young age ultimately leads to healthier habits and, therefore a healthier lifestyle.
While it’s important to teach your kids how to exercise on a regular basis, lots of people tend to miss out on one very crucial and basic factor, which is stretching.
The simple truth is that stretching for children has various benefits. It’s absolutely necessary, and skipping this part before and after exercise could lead to injuries and delayed recovery. Just a few minutes of stretching before and after exercise routines has more benefits than you would imagine.
In the following article, we’ll take a look at some of the benefits of stretching and exactly why it’s important to your kid’s health.
How do you improve a child’s flexibility?
For children, stretching should be part of an overall daily physical activity routine.
Flexibility does seem to come naturally to children; however, they should pay attention to the level and type of activity to ensure that stretching is always included.
This should be emphasized during times of growth spurts as the muscles tend to become tighter, and stretching can help to alleviate discomfort.
Stretching has so many benefits for children, and the sooner they start, the better. Ideally, children should stretch before and after any physical activities such as playing soccer, running, and so on.
Alternatively, they can also participate in activities that include stretching, such as yoga. Overall stretching should be done at least three times a week.
Stretching should be done before any sports activities as part of a warm-up routine. Stretching should also be dynamic, and dynamic stretching includes repeated arm circles, torso twists, leg swings, and basically any type of “movement”.
After sports, stretching should also be done, and this type of stretching should be stationary or basically concentrating on certain muscle groups that were used to exercise.
You should show your children how to stretch in positions where they feel the muscle is activated then hold without bouncing for 20 to 30 seconds.
Why is child flexibility important?
Stretching is not just beneficial for children, it is absolutely necessary.
Children who don’t stretch before and after an activity can suffer unnecessary injuries or experience prolonged recovery time. Some of the biggest advantages of stretching include:
Getting their blood pumping: Just a few minutes spent stretching and warming up before exercising will help to loosen the tension in muscles and will get them ready to go out there and play with more flexibility.
Reduced risk of injury: Failure to stretch before exercising means that your child could be injured while exercising. When kids forget to stretch before exercising or without warming up in muscles, they could easily pull a muscle. If children don’t cool down after exercise as well and practice stationary stretching, their muscles won’t recover as quickly, and they could possibly sustain injuries.
Increases flexibility and range of motion: Stretching can greatly increase your child’s flexibility and range of motion.
Aside from these benefits, stretching before exercising helps to increase your child’s heart and respiratory rate, boost the amount of blood and oxygen to muscles and increases muscle temperature aside from preparing your body for a workout.
In order to help heal after a workout, you need to also practice gentle movement and stretching.
Ultimately, this helps to reduce the chance of feeling lightheaded or dizzy, slows your heart rate and breathing, and helps you to relax and feel the full benefits of your workout.
Who are more flexible boys or girls?
This is a question that gym instructors are asked more often than not. According to gym instructors, gender can affect mobility; however, there are other internal and external influences that play a role.
The internal influences that may affect mobility include elasticity of muscle tissue, type of joints, tendons, the ability of the muscle to relax as well as the ligaments and skin.
External influences include the time of day, age, temperature, and commitment to achieving greater mobility.
According to many gym instructors, when these factors are considered, it turns out that girls are more flexible than boys when stretching. And three of the fundamental reasons for this include genetics, the sports played as well as certain psychological factors.
It should be noted that one of the reasons why females are more flexible than men is simply because of the stigma attached to stretching.
Activities such as yoga and Pilates have long been associated as female exercises; however, now with elite athletes talking more about becoming involved in these classes, it has become more acceptable for males to try them out.
3 Stretching workouts for kids
As we mentioned previously, stretching works best when it’s done before and after physical activity. Below are some easy and fun stretching activities that kids can do.
Downward facing dog
- Your child should start by standing up straight and avoiding bending their knees.
- Next, they should raise their hands and move them forward until they touch the ground.
- There should be significant space between the hands and legs.
- Lastly, the back should be stretched out, and the child’s gaze should be fixed towards their toes for 10 seconds.
- During this activity, your child should sit on the ground with their legs stretched out in front of them.
- Their back should be perpendicular to the floor. They should then extend both arms towards the tip of their toes.
- Once your child reaches the tip of their toes, they should hold that position for 10 seconds.
- Thereafter they should release and get back to the original position.
- During this stretching activity, your child should kneel and sit on their feet.
- Next, they should extend their arms and spread their fingers on the floor.
- Next, they should inhale deeply through the nose as they open their eyes wide.
- Thereafter, your child should open up their mouth wide, stretch their tongue, and roar as they exhale.
- These steps should be repeated between 4 to 6 times.