Smart coaches warm up their teams before practices and games. The goal of this is to get athletes’ bodies ready to play—and to help avoid injuries in the long run. This is especially important for young athletes who are just learning how to play and take care of their bodies. That’s why practicing safe stretches for children is so necessary for your sports-playing child.
Stretching serves a variety of purposes for athletes. More and more studies show dynamic stretching is better than static stretching for a warm-up. This doesn’t mean, however, that all traditional stretches are bad. In fact, a lot of them are useful for preventing muscles or connective tissues from getting too tight and stiff. This is especially helpful for young athletes, since tight tissues can easily cause injuries to their growing frames.
After your son or daughter plays sports or spends lots of time being active, spend some time on some safe stretches for children to keep his or her soft tissues limber and avoid some injuries:
Forward Lunges – Help your child lunge forward on one foot. The forward knee should be bent at close to a right angle; the back knee should be straight with the heel on the ground.
Side Lunges – Have your child stand with his or her feet apart. Help your young athlete bend one knee sideways and lean that direction while keeping the other knee straight.
Standing Quad Pull – Help your child balance while or she stands and holds one ankle. Have your child pull that ankle close to his or her hips while keeping that knee pointed toward the ground.
Butterfly Stretch – Have your child sit and put the soles of his or her feet together. Then help your child gently push his or her knees flat toward the ground.
Sitting Hamstring Stretch – Still sitting, have your child stretch his or her legs out straight. Then help your child lean forward toward to touch his or her toes.
All of these need to be done carefully, of course. Your child shouldn’t stretch to the point that it’s extremely painful. That could signal muscle damage. If you need help with stretches for children, or your young athlete needs sports-specific injury recovery, let us know at Castle Pines Physical Therapy. Just call (303) 805-5156 to make an appointment at our Castle Pines, CO, location.