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Are your kids sitting with their backs hunched in front of the television or sitting at an awkward angle while they play with their smartphone? This needs to change and stretches is the best way to go about it.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Also Read: Natural Ways to Increase Height in Children