How to Encourage Stretching for Your Kids
For children, stretching should be part of their overall, day-to-day physical activity routine. While flexibility tends to come naturally for kids, you should still pay attention to their type and level of activity to ensure they include stretching. Children’s’ muscles might be tight, particularly during growth spurts, and having them stretch can help to prevent injuries. Below you’ll learn why stretching is so important and some tips you can follow to encourage your little one to stretch.
The Importance of Stretching for Children
There are numerous benefits of stretching, including:
- Prevents injuries
- Recovery after exercise
- It feels good
- Reduced muscle tension
- Maintains flexibility into adulthood
- It can be a family activity
- Increased blood flow to their muscles
- Improves the health of joints and range of motion
There are many benefits to stretching. Both your children and you can benefit from stretching together.
Tips to Encourage Stretching for Your Kids
Overall, aim for having your child stretch a minimum of three times a week.
1. Make it a Game
One example is the “The Dr. Seuss Super Stretchy ABC Game,” which is similar to the game Twister. However, instead of using the primary-colored dots, it uses the letters of the alphabet. So, not only will your child benefit from easy stretching and fun, but they’ll also get to review the alphabet.
2. Make It Part of an Art Project
Art projects help to stretch the larger muscle groups such as your legs, arms and core. Have your child work on large-scale creative efforts which will get their legs, arms and trunk moving. Some examples would be:
- Making a mural: Use an oversize cardboard box, roll of paper or an old bedsheet to create the canvas they’ll use for their large mural. Hang it on the wall or spread it out on the floor, give your child some washable paint and let them begin creating their masterpiece.
- Paint or draw on an easel: Have your child stand at an easel where they’ll have to stretch their arms to paint or draw. Play some music. If you play fast-tempo music, their strokes will become jabs of paint. Slow, classical music will make their strokes more leisurely and long. This is a great way for them to stretch their upper torso.
3. Limit Screen Time
Instead of placing your child in front of a computer or TV, have them spend some time outdoors playing at the local playground, shooting hoops or playing tag with friends. Make sure they stretch before and after.
4. Be a Role Model
Your child is watching you and will mimic your habits whether they’re good habits or bad habits. If you’re physically active and stretch, they’ll be more inclined to do the same. You can show them everyday stretches that you perform, which they can watch and learn.
5. Involve the Entire Family
Have the whole family participate in activities. Family time is a successful way of changing your child’s exercise habits. Incorporate stretching into the activities your family does as a whole.
6. Make It Fun Before and After Sport, Fitness or Recreational Activities
Stretching as part of a warm-up or before fitness activities or sports shouldn’t be static. It should be dynamic (moving). Dynamic stretching can include repetitive leg swings, arm circles or torso twists.
After physical play or sports, children should always do a stretching cool-down routine. This is where they’ll perform static (stationary) stretching where they’ll concentrate on the muscles they used during their physical activity like their hamstrings, calves and quads.
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