Kids who stretch before exercising reduce their chance of injury.
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As a parent, one of the most important lessons you can teach your kids is the value of exercising regularly. Positive exercise habits can extend into adulthood, and kids who exercise regularly can improve athletic skills and coordination, as well as manage their weight. Although kids are often keen to jump right into whatever exercise you've chosen, set a positive example by demonstrating a series of pre- and post-workout stretches.
Choose Dynamic and Static
Effective stretching is about more than just touching your toes or pushing against a tree before your workout. Every exercise, regardless of your age, should include a combination of dynamic and static stretches at specific times. Dynamic exercises serve to warm up your body and wake up your nervous system as you prepare for more vigorous exercise, and are necessary before the workout. Static stretches, which have more of a relaxed nature, help cool the body after a workout.
Get Moving With Dynamic Stretches
Teaching kids how to use dynamic stretches before exercise can be a challenge, especially if the kids are eager to begin their chosen sport or activity. Explain that a child who fails to stretch for five to 10 minutes has a risk of straining a muscle or joint, which could result in a lengthy break from playing sports or being active. Always lead the kids through their stretches enthusiastically. Dynamic stretches to include before exercise include shoulder circles and arm swings, hip circles, lunges, leg swings and power skipping.
Cool Down with Static Stretches
Once your kids have finished their game of soccer, gymnastics routine or other form of exercise, it's time for static stretches. This form of stretching requires holding each pose for about 30 seconds, which gives adequate time for the lengthening of the muscle fibers. Static stretching should run for five to 10 minutes and include stretches that target areas such as the chest, shoulders, arms, back and legs. To stretch the quadriceps, for example, show the kids how to lie on the floor on your front, raise your right heel toward your buttocks and gently pull on the right ankle with your right hand until you feel a stretch in your quad. Hold the pose for 30 seconds and switch sides.
Stretch to Keep Healthy
Knowing the importance of stretching helps you effectively convey the benefits of the practice to your kids. Explain the benefits of greater flexibility, which include not just excelling in their chosen sport or activity, but also contributing positively to everyday movements. Stress that stretching isn't a race -- kids might be tempted to compete with one another, especially during dynamic stretching sessions -- and remind the kids to avoid stretching to the point of pain.