Easy to Do Stretches for Kids – Exercises and Activities
Are your kids often found sitting with their backs hunched in front of the television or adopting awkward postures while engrossed in smartphone activities? It’s crucial to address these habits early on to promote their well-being. Introducing simple stretching exercises into their routine can make a significant difference. Encouraging regular stretches not only helps improve posture but also enhances flexibility and reduces the risk of musculoskeletal issues. Consider incorporating fun and engaging stretching routines into their daily activities, turning it into a positive and healthy habit. By instilling these practices early, you’re fostering a foundation for a lifetime of good posture and overall physical well-being. Let’s discuss the different stretches for kids.
What Are the Benefits of Doing Stretches?
- If your little munchkin is preparing for athletics, stretching will help to increase the flexibility of the muscles and thus, avoid muscle tears.
- Studies have shown that regular practice of stretching exercises like yoga, helped improve the attention span of children.
- Stretching, when combined with cardio, can help increase blood circulation.
- Studies have shown that sustained stretching exercises, when done regularly can help children with cerebral palsy improve their range of motion.
- Doing regular stretching exercises (along with proper nutrition) can help your kids grow taller.
- Stretching can help improve posture and provides relief to chronic back pain for your child.
- As your child gets stressed, his muscles will become tense which may lead to chronic pain in the shoulders, neck, and head. Stretching helps ease that tension way.
What Is the Best Time to Stretch for Kids?
Stretching works best when it is done before and after physical activity. For instance, if your child plays football, make sure they do stretching exercises on the field before and after the game. This will help get the body flexible and avoid injury.
Easy and Fun Stretching Exercises for Kids
Below are some yoga stretches for kids as well as gymnastic stretches for kids that can be done:
1. Downward Facing Dog
- Make your child stand up straight and ask her to avoid bending her knees.
- Tell her to raise her hands and then move them forward till they touch the ground.
- There should be ample distance between the legs and hands.
- Ensure that her back is stretched out and her gaze is fixated towards her toes for at least ten seconds.
2. Cobra Pose
- Ask your child to start with the downward facing dog pose.
- Then tell her to bend her elbows and go down on the floor.
- Now make her raise her chest forward and upward, with the neck jutting out and hold this position for about five seconds.
- Make her repeat step two and three in succession.
3. Virabhadrasana II or Warrior 2 Pose
- Ask your child to stretch out her legs at a comfortable wide angle that extends beyond the hips.
- Now tell her to turn her left toes inwards and her right toes outward such that the right foot is ninety degrees to her body.
- After this, she needs to raise both her hands until they are parallel to the floor.
- Now she needs to bend her right knee to the point where her front toes are still visible from her point of view and stay in this position for ten seconds.
- The same can be performed with the opposite legs.
4. Vriksasana or Tree Pose
- Ask her to insert her right foot firmly to the ground while gently lifting her left knee towards the waist.
- Now make her gently move her raised leg towards the left and place her sole of the left foot on the upper right thigh.
- Tell her to join both her hands and raise her elbows, such that her forearms are parallel to the ground.
- Let her remain in this position for about ten seconds and then repeat with the other leg.
5. Camel Pose
- Ask your kid to kneel down with sufficient space between her legs.
- Tell her to place both her hands on her lower back.
- The hands can be used to gently push the back forward, and the head moved back as a warm-up.
- Now ask them to gently go all the way back and until she can firmly hold her ankles with her hands.
6. Toe Touches
- Make your kid sit down on the ground with her legs stretched out in front and her back perpendicular to the floor.
- Tell her to extend both her arms towards the tip of her toes.
- Once she reaches the tip, tell her to hold the position for at least 10 seconds.
- Let her release and get back to the original position.
7. The Wheel Pose
- Ask your child to lie down with her knees bent, and ankle tucked next to the buttock.
- Tell her to place her palms under the shoulder.
- Now make her lift herself off the ground with the help of her palm and ankles.
- This can be difficult for some and she can use the crown of her head for support as well.
8. Rocking Plank
- Ask your kid to position herself parallel to the ground in a ground face position. This can be down using the forearms as support in front and toes at the bottom.
- Ensure that neither her head nor buttocks are raised, and her whole body should be a straight line.
- Make her perform a rocking motion with the help of her toes.
- Let her do this for ten seconds and then let her rest.
9. Child’s Pose
- Make your child begin by kneeling with her knees apart and toes touching.
- Let her fold forward, placing the forehead on the mat, and extend her arms forward with palms facing down.
- Tell her to move the lower body, touching the buttocks to the heels.
- Encourage her to inhale and exhale slowly, holding the pose for about 30 seconds (ensure the floor is clean).
- This exercise promotes relaxation in children (1).
10. Bow Pose
- Make your child lie on her belly, head to one side, and hands beside the body.
- Make her turn her head, exhale, fold her knees, and grasp her right ankle with the right hand and left ankle with the left hand.
- Tell her to inhale, lift her chest, and raise her knees while holding the ankles.
- Instruct her to exhale, slowly lower her chest and feet, and return to the starting position.
11. Cat-Cow Stretch
- Let her start in a table-top position on all fours, head straight, and back flat.
- Tell her to inhale, flex the back downward (cow position).
- Then exhale, round the back upwards, forming an arch (cat position).
- Let her alternate between the two postures five times or as per her preference.
12. Butterfly Stretch
- Let her begin by sitting with legs crossed.
- Join the feet, ensuring the soles are touching.
- Tell her to allow the knees to gently stretch outward while maintaining contact between the soles, keeping the back straight and slightly elevated.
- Let her swing the knees up and down in a motion resembling the flapping of butterfly wings.
- Continue this leg movement for 10-30 seconds and then return to the initial seated position.
13. Crossbody Shoulder Stretch
- Make your child stand with feet at shoulder-width distance.
- Let her raise the right arm and move it towards the left.
- Tell her to use the left hand to push the right elbow, stretching the right arm.
- Hold for a few seconds. Repeat with the left arm.
- With consistent practice, it also diminishes the likelihood of sustaining injuries (2).
14. Tricep Stretch
- Make your child sit or stand upright.
- Let her raise the left hand, bend to touch the upper back center.
- Tell her to use the right hand to support or push the left elbow.
- Repeat by switching arms.
- This exercise can be done by standing or sitting in one position (3).
15. Knee Lunge
- Make your child stand straight with hands on the waist.
- Instruct her to step forward, ensuring the knee is in line with the ankle.
- Squat down with the other leg stretched.
- Tell her to hold for a few seconds, then switch legs.
- Another variation is the side lunge, stepping to the right and left side.
- Strengthens calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, back muscles, and abdominals (4).
Stretching Games and Activities for Children
Check out some dynamic stretches along with flexibility activities for kids that are good for health:
1. Alphabet Stretch
This works well in a group of twelve kids or more. Divide the kids into three groups of four children. Give a secret alphabet to each group which they must make only using their bodies. They are allowed to sit or stand as they combine their bodies to make an alphabet. The team which makes the best alphabet and can be guessed by the other team wins!
Two kids must hold a pole at shoulder length. The objective for the other kids is to go under the pole without touching it. If all the kids get through, the pole is held at a lower height, and the other kids must go under the pole again. This goes on until only one kid succeeds in crossing the pole without touching it.
3. Mirror Image Challenge
Put two kids face-to-face and make them mimic each other. The one who is able to twist and stretch more wins!
4. Human Spring
The kids are made to stand face to face and then fall towards each other. They must stop themselves from falling by using the other kid’s palm for support using their own palm. To increase the difficulty, increase the distance between the children.
5. Martial Arts
Various forms like karate, taekwondo and jujitsu help improve flexibility as it involves back stretches, hamstring stretches, etc.
6. Yoga Freeze Dance
Turn traditional freeze dance into a stretching game by incorporating yoga poses. Play music, and when it stops, the children freeze in a yoga pose. This not only adds an element of fun but also encourages flexibility and balance through different yoga positions.
Safety Measures to Follow During Stretching
Stretching is a beneficial practice for children, promoting flexibility, coordination, and overall physical well-being. However, it is essential to prioritize safety to prevent any potential injuries during stretching exercises. Here are important safety measures to keep in mind:
1. Warm-Up Routine
Always begin with a gentle warm-up to prepare muscles for stretching. Engage in light aerobic activities like jogging or jumping jacks for at least 5-10 minutes.
2. Age-Appropriate Exercises
Tailor stretching routines to the child’s age and developmental stage. Avoid advanced stretches that may strain immature muscles or joints.
Ensure that a responsible adult or trained instructor supervises stretching sessions to guide proper technique and intervene if needed.
4. Proper Technique Emphasis
Teach children the importance of proper form during stretches to prevent overexertion or incorrect postures that could lead to injuries.
5. Gradual Progression
Encourage gradual progression in stretching intensity and duration. Avoid pushing children into deep stretches immediately, allowing their bodies to adapt over time.
Keep kids well-hydrated before, during, and after stretching activities. Dehydration can affect muscle elasticity and increase the risk of injuries.
7. Comfortable Attire
Ensure children wear comfortable clothing that allows for a full range of motion, preventing any restrictions during stretching exercises.
8. Breathing Awareness
Emphasize the importance of proper breathing during stretches. Instruct children to breathe deeply and regularly to enhance relaxation and flexibility.
1. How Can You Explain Stretching to Your Child?
Explaining stretching to your child can be done in a simple and fun way. You can describe it as a way to make their muscles and joints more flexible, like when they reach for the sky or touch their toes. Emphasize that it helps them stay healthy, play better, and feel good. Introduce kids stretches as a part of their playtime routine, incorporating games and activities to make it enjoyable.
2. Is It Normal for Kids Not to Be Very Flexible?
Yes, it is normal for kids to vary in flexibility. Children’s bodies are still growing and developing, and flexibility can differ based on age, genetics, and individual differences. Some kids may naturally be more flexible than others. It’s essential to encourage a gradual improvement in flexibility through age-appropriate stretching activities, emphasizing that everyone progresses at their own pace. Regular stretching can contribute to increased flexibility over time.
Feel free to get the neighbouring kids into their exercise regime or join in yourself to give them company! Remember that kids are more flexible when compared to adults so let them lead the way and you can follow through cautiously.
1. Stretch for Your Best!; Healthpoweredkids.org; https://healthpoweredkids.org/lessons/stretch-for-your-best/
2. Shoulder RTC Simple Stretching and Strengthening; Nicklaus Children’s Hospital; https://www.nicklauschildrens.org/patient-resources/health-and-safety-information/shoulder-rtc-simple-stretching-and-strengthenin
3. 11 Stretches for Athletes’ Children’s Hospital Colorado; https://www.childrenscolorado.org/conditions-and-advice/sports-articles/sports-safety/stretching-for-athletes/
4. The Undervalued Lunge; National Strength and Conditioning Association; https://www.nsca.com/contentassets/24dd7222ed1b4caeb8a0a46b81bd11f3/ptq-4.4.9-the-undervalued-lunge.pdf
5. Stretching; Nationwide Children’s; https://www.nationwidechildrens.org/specialties/sports-medicine/sports-medicine-articles/stretching
6. Week Two: Downward Facing Dog/Child’s Pose; Inclusive Yoga; National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability; https://www.nchpad.org/fppics/DownwardFacingDog.pdf
7. Body Composition and Flexibility; American Academy of Pediatrics; https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/fitness/Pages/Body-Composition-and-Flexibility.aspx