For all the soccer moms and football dads out there (or whatever your little one is into), we are as proud of your kid athletes as you are! Getting into sports, or other regular exercise routine, is one of the best ways to develop positive, healthy habits for years to come. The mental and physical benefits for working out are seemingly endless! But if your little one is working hard on the court, field, track, floor, water, or snow, it’s important to be prepared to prevent injury and protect their physical and mental well-being. One great way to do just that is by adding stretches for kids into their exercise routines. To find out why this is a must for the upcoming sports season, pick a team at each match and let the games begin!
Match One: Injury vs. Well-being
Sports are the top cause of injury for kids and little athletes are especially at risk. An injury can be not only painful, but both physically and mentally challenging for kids excited to keep the playtime going. An injury increases the likelihood of taking kids out of their sport and gaining weight, losing their fitness, and even facing mental health challenges from the difficulties of being removed from their friends, stopping their favorite activity, and missing out on endorphins from exercise. Unfortunately, sports are the most likely cause of injury for kids, so practicing stretching exercises is the best way to keep them in the game. Round one, goes to well-being!
Match Two: Preparedness vs. Spontaneity
As the first game showed us, preventing injury is a big winner! One big reason is that it helps with increasing flexibility and range of motion. These key players not only help avoid an accident but also boost athletic performance. Not to mention, stretching can provide a moment of mental preparation. It brings kids into a healthy routine both physically and mentally, readying them for play, getting them in the zone, and then subsequently relaxing them after their practice or a big game. Although a stretching routine takes time away from spontaneity and maximum playtime, it can actually extend the game in the long run and make it more successful. Ding Ding! Match two goes to preparedness!
Match Three: Dynamic vs. Static
Yes, stretching exercises for kids can be time consuming, but who says they can’t be fun! Dynamic stretches mimic the sport while also increasing muscle temperature and promoting flexibility. It’s the perfect way to get in the groove for the competition ahead. Pick out easy, relaxed moves that suit the sport. If your little athlete is a soccer player, they can practice swinging their legs as if they are going for a goal. Or, if they’re a softballer, they can pretend to throw easy tosses to the home plate. Not unlike dynamic, static stretches maximize flexibility and keep the muscles and connective tissues nice and loose. Think yoga or dancing, the kinds of stretches that elongate those limbs. Both types are important, but ultimately the one you choose to prioritize depends on the need of the sport. That makes match three a tie!
Match Four: Warm Up vs. Cool Down
That was a tough round, but now is time for a rematch! Before any physical activity, even stretching, it is important to warm the body up with a gentle exercise routine. This gets the blood flowing, while the muscles heat up for the action. Five to ten minutes of brisk walking, light running, or jumping jacks will do the trick. Then, before the game begins, start with dynamic stretching, working each pose for 20-30 seconds, each repeated at least three times for the full benefit. After exercise, repeat the same post warm up sessions to cool down and stretch it out with some static moves while the muscles are still warm. Ultimately, dynamic stretches are a big win for warm ups and static wins for the cool down. Good game!
At Coastal Kids, we are as passionate about keeping your kid athletes healthy and playing hard for the years to come as you are! Our skilled team of pediatricians is available to help your little one start a routine that protects them and helps them play even more. If you have any questions or are interested in help picking out their best stretches, visit us at https://coastalkids.com/. We can’t wait to see your kiddo win at being happy and healthy (and hopefully their sport too)!