As a parent, your child’s health and well-being are your top priority. Your little one is growing at an incredible rate — and they need to exercise their body as they develop.
While getting active is easy during the warmer months, the same can’t always be said for winter. Children can be very sensitive to the cold, and mountains of snow don’t make it easy to romp around.
Despite this hurdle, you and your child can still have lots of fun while exercising indoors. Stretching is an easy way to get your child started with physical activity, and is important before and after play sessions to avoid injuries and keep their body in shape.
You can encourage your child to stay active by teaching them basic stretches during their early years. While winter makes it difficult to get outside, you can stretch almost anywhere. It’s a great way to stay active when there aren’t too many options.
Here’s why stretching is so important for young kids, and how you can teach your little ones some basic techniques and have some fun with them on a snowy day.
Why Is It Important For Kids to Stretch?
Whether your child is an aspiring athlete, gymnast, or dancer, stretching will be an important part of how they look after their bodies and maintain their physical health. No matter what your child wants to be when they grow up, stretching will help them feel and perform their best.
Stretching encourages blood flow throughout their muscles, increasing their range of motion and flexibility. It can help young kids avoid injuries and even enhance performance in sports.
The physical benefits are obvious, but stretching can also help your child mentally and emotionally. Stretching can calm the mind, help them manage stress, and increase their energy level throughout the day.
There are 2 main kinds of stretches — static and dynamic:
- Static stretches are typically more common and are held for at least 30 seconds. You’re supposed to hold the position without bouncing and take steady breaths. Static stretches are best after sports or other physical activities and can aid in soothing muscle cramps. Doing static stretches before physical activity can hinder your child’s performance.
- Dynamic stretches involve moving a part of the body in a swift motion to exercise the joints and muscles. These are best performed before sports and intense physical activity.
Can My Child Get Hurt Stretching?
If you want the short answer — yes. Stretching involves exercising the joints and muscles and like every other exercise, overdoing it can cause pain or injury.
It’s important that your child only stretches to the point where it’s comfortable. Pushing themselves can lead to muscle strain and damage.
It’s important to warm up before stretching static stretches. A few minutes of dynamic stretching can help, or simply walking around.
Simple Stretches for Kids
There are many different positions and stretches you can incorporate into your child’s routine. As they improve their motor skills, flexibility, and endurance, you can try teaching them harder moves.
Each stretch has its own unique benefits and exercises different parts of the body. Feel free to mix things up every now and then — as long as your child is having fun and feeling good!
Here are a few common and fun stretches you can try with your child:
- Child’s Pose: Kneel on the ground with your knees spread apart and your toes touching. Guide your forehead to touch the ground, add a towel or pillow if it doesn’t reach. Arms can be placed at the sides or in front of your head. Inhale and exhale deeply.
- Knee Lunge: Start by kneeling on a mat. You need to keep your back straight, and slowly extend one foot on the ground. The knee should be at a 90-degree angle. Place your hands on your knee to stabilize yourself.
- Butterfly Stretch: Start in a seated position. Press the soles of your feet together and hold them with your hands. Your legs form the “wings.” Gently press your knees down to challenge yourself.
- Crossover Toe Touch: Stand with your feet together and your arms hanging at your sides. Slightly bend your knees and slowly bend your back down, reaching for your toes with your hands. If you or your child can’t touch them, no worries — you shouldn’t overdo it!
- Bow Pose: Lie on your belly. Exhale and bend your knees, bringing your legs close to your buttocks. Reach back with your hands and hold your ankles. Raise your ankles upwards, lifting your thighs off the mat. Raise your head and remember not to hold your breath.
- Cobra Pose: Lie on your belly, with your hands under your shoulders and your elbows pointed back. Inhale and slowly raise your chest and head upwards, straightening your arms.
Make Daily Stretching Fun!
Encourage your child to look forward to their daily stretches by making them fun. You can play Simon Says, and have your child mimic you by performing and holding positions. You can encourage them to challenge themselves and become more aware of their body’s limits.
You can put on a guided video featuring a kid their age. There are several YouTube channels hosted by children dedicated to making stretching easy and fun.
You can also get your child excited to begin stretching by rewarding them with an outdoor activity. This will teach them that stretching is important before working out or playing sports and that fun activities come after stretching.
Instead of stretching in silence (though that can be very relaxing), try putting on some upbeat music for your kids. Change positions according to the beat, and incorporate a few dance moves to lighten up the beginning of the day. Send them to school happy and energized!
Invite your child’s friends to join in on the fun! It’s a great way to socialize your child. Seeing their friends stretch will also encourage them to participate.
Get Stretchin’ With Your Little Ones
Are you ready to begin showing your child just how fun stretching can be? You can encourage their new fitness habits while preparing them for the day and starting them off strong.
Begin a routine to keep your child stretching at home — join them and double the fun. There’s no need to go outside, or for any special equipment.
Once they’ve finished their stretches and are ready to face the day, they can enjoy fun and challenging activities to their heart’s content.
If you’d like to support your child’s physical and mental fitness, Mountain Kids Louisville provides a fun, safe, and supportive environment offering gymnastics, dance classes, and more!