With modernization comes comfort even in regard to games played by children. Gone were the days where games played by children involve physical exertion. Many of the tasks of today require only a push of a button. Likewise, in this era of computers where there are a lot of gaming systems, more children are spending most of their play time sitting, watching and clicking only either a remote control or a game controller and hence, there is no physical exertion at all.
With this in mind, parents, teachers and physicians continue to encourage children to make the most of their youth and likewise to exercise their bodies. Cardiovascular exercise and strength building exercises should all be finished with stretching exercises for children. Stretching helps to improve the function of the muscles and maintain flexibility. But doing stretching first will only prove to increase the risk of injury when children attempt to stretch a cold muscle.
Moreover, with stretching exercises, agility and performance will also be improved should the child opt to participate in any in any sport activity. There are rules to stretching for both children and adults. It is important to follow those rules for each of the different stretches to decrease the risk of injury and increase the benefits.
Focus on large muscle groups of the child’s body and the small muscle groups that are used in sports which the child play when doing stretching exercises. One simple stretch is to lie on the back, face to the ceiling and stretch the arms and hands above the head. Hold this stretch for 10 seconds. This stretch will work the abdominal, arm, shoulders, ankles, spine and back.
In the next stretch, children should lay flat on their back with their arms along side of the body. Bend the legs at the hips 90 degrees and at the knees 90 degrees. Twist the lower body onto the right hip with the left leg on top. Keep the shoulders flat against the floor. Using the right hand grab the left knee and pull to stretch the hip and lower back. Hold this stretch for 20 seconds and then stretch the other side. Repeat this 2-4 times.
The following stretch puts emphasis on the ligaments and muscles in the lower leg and ankle. In a sitting position with legs in front and feet slightly spread grab the right ankle with the right hand and pull the foot toward the chest. Rotate the foot in both clockwise and counterclockwise positions. Repeat with the other foot.
While in stretching the forearms, the children should kneel down with the toes in the bent up position. Place the hands on the floor with the fingers facing the knees. While keeping your hands flat on the floor lean back, holding for 30 seconds.
Now if you want to stretch the child’s back, spine and leg muscles, this is easy to do if there are stairs available to use. Have the child stand straight up with their left side facing the stairs. Their left leg should raise and place the left heel on the highest stair they can comfortably reach. Put hands on hips and lean sideways toward the stairs to stretch the back muscles. Hold this for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Lastly, this will be the stretch for the back and lower legs of the child. Using the steps again as a prop has the child stand facing the stairs. Raise one leg and put it on the highest step they can reach. With hands on hips and back straight lean forward to stretch the hamstrings. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat with the other leg.
Children should practice these simple stretches after working out or any time after their bodies are warm. By continually stretching their muscles they will increase their flexibility and improve their physical performance.