I can still hear my boot camp instructor saying “make sure you do your stretches before class starts“. It’s one of the most important things we do during a workout. So naturally it’s just as important for kids to stretch before they start any physical activity. In fact, doctors, trainers and coaches all support proper stretching, warm-ups and cool downs to avoid injuries.
Spending just 15 minutes stretching before a game or practice can make all the difference in the world. According to a study done by Oklahoma State University Medical Center, stretching can prevent injuries, help kids become flexible and reduce muscle tension. It also can decrease the risk of cramping or straining something important.
This study suggests a few stretches that can help:
Kneel down with both feet pressed together with knees apart. Arms at the side of your body with palms up. Bend over as if you are trying to touch the floor with your forehead. Hold this for 10 seconds, breathing throughout. Repeat several times.
Shoulder Blades Stretch
Stand with arms stretched out, parallel to the ground. Keep palms facing backward with thumbs toward the ground. Press your arms back as if squeezing a ball behind your back. Breathe normally and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat.
Sit with back straight and both legs extended in front. Bend the right leg toward the body until the bottom of your foot is next to the left leg. Lean forward, reach for the toes and exhale. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat. Change legs.
Stand with legs shoulder-width apart, right hand on right hip and left hand overhead. Lean toward the right as if trying to touch the right shoulder with left hand. Exhale while leaning over. Hold for 10 seconds, switch sides.
Researchers say a light jog also acts as a good warm-up. It’s also a good idea to cool down with stretches after a sporting event.