If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that healthy habits are best learned at a young age. Whether you’re raising a future major leaguer or taking daily walks in the park, stretching benefits the body and the mind.
What is the importance of regular stretching?
Stretching has long been performed before taking part in exercising. Warming up muscles before movement can prevent injuries. Stretching can also make big movements (climbing the stairs of the jungle gym or reaching into the cabinet for the last Oreo) easier because of more movement available at joints. Stretching can calm the mind to help focus on homework and enhance sleeping habits. Learning to take care of their body can create lifelong healthy habits.
What stretches should my child do?
The list of stretches is endless but listed are a few examples that target the whole body.
- Cat/Camel – Starting on hands and knees, arch your back up while dropping your chin to your chest. Next, bring your belly towards the ground as you look up towards the ceiling.
- Butterfly – While seated on the floor, bend your knees and place the bottoms of your feet together. The closer your feet are to your bottom, the more stretch you will feel.
- Toe Touch – While standing, reach down toward your toes and try to keep your knees straight!
- Head to shoulder – In sitting or standing with an upright posture, drop your head sideways toward your shoulder.
- Down Dog – Starting on your hands and knees, raise your hips toward the sky while trying to keep the bottom of your feet flat on the ground
- Corner – Stand facing a corner with your arms in the “field goal” position. Gently let your body lean forward.
How long and how often should my child stretch?
Stretching helps the body the most when done on a daily basis. With help to make sure form is correct, each position should be held for 10-20 seconds at least 3 times, and equally on both sides of the body. Repeat daily to reduce tightness and increase mobility!
The old adage “Do as I say and not as I do” should not apply to stretches. Show your kids how to best take care of themselves by taking care of yourself too!
TEAM 4 Kids offers group fitness classes to get kids stretching and moving with their peers. To schedule a physical therapy evaluation with TEAM 4 Kids, give us a call at 1-800-376-3440.
Stephanie Harris PTA and Cassandra Latham PT, DPT
In the video below, PT Cassie shares her favorite 5-minute stretching routine to decrease tightness and increase mobility. Give it a try to experience the many benefits an active lifestyle offers for kids!