Monojit Ghosh is a former gymnast and fitness trainer and gymnastics coach at Art Corner Gymnastics, Bangalore
Stretching exercises benefit everyone but especially children. Children have natural muscle flexibility, and by nurturing it through regular exercise, they can reap lifelong health benefits. Moreover children experience major physical growth spurts, during which muscles get stiff. Stretching exercises help to retain body flexibility and keep muscles strong and healthy.
Stretching workout benefits
A comprehensive stretching workout routine prevents injury, increases body flexibility, and ensures good blood flow to the muscles. When children in particular, play games and sports, improved body flexibility prevents injuries and joint sprain. All athletes and sportspersons need to develop body flexibility to boost track and field performance. Some children are naturally more flexible than others. Therefore it’s important to incorporate stretching exercises into children’s daily workout routines.
Here are some important benefits of stretching:
- Improves joints stability and mobility, which improves sports performance.
- Prevents injuries and mitigates the impact of falls.
- Improves body flexibility and movement.
- Promotes better body posture.
- Increases blood flow to muscles.
- Reduces stress.
- Prevents body stiffness and provides relief from sore muscles.
- Helps recovery after exercise.
- Continues body flexibility into adulthood.
Increases mental peace and well-being.
Recommended stretching exercises
Children enjoy challenging themselves, especially if they exercise together with friends. Get them to try these simple stretching exercises.
Stand, slightly take one leg forward and raise your front leg straight, lift your toe and hold it with your fingers. Slowly pull upwards. Now switch to your other leg and repeat the exercise.
Stand and take the same position with one leg forward. Keep your back leg straight while flatten foot on the floor. Switch your leg and repeat.
Stand straight, fold one leg back and hold your toe and pull it up and making sure your knee moves back. After 20 seconds, switch to your other leg.
From the standing position, place one leg forward and the other backward; then bend the forward leg and stretch your hip joint. Switch legs after holding for 20 seconds.
Cat cow pose stretch
Kneel and place your palms forward, to get on all fours. Push your back upwards, forming a hollow body, then push your chest downwards and arch your back. Repeat 20 times.
Kneel with your butt on your heels. Bend your body forward and try to touch your forehead to the floor. Hold this position for 20 seconds.
Sitting to toe touch
Sit with your legs stretched forward. Keep your back straight, then bend your upper body forward without bending knees and try to touch your chin to your knees, and fingers to toes. Hold for a minimum 20 seconds.
Back stretch (bridge hold)
Lie on your back, keep your palms besides your ears with hands and legs bent. Slowly lift your hip and stretch your back, making a bridge. Hold for 10 seconds.
Cage or bow case
Lie on your stomach, hold your ankles with your hands and then slowly try to stretch your legs and hands upwards. Hold for 10 seconds. Gradually increase the timing.
Lie on your stomach, bend your hands and bring your palm beside your chest. Slowly lift your back while looking up. Remain in this position for 20 seconds.
Stretch your legs sideways as far as you can, and sit down slowly. Then slowly bend down without bending your knees. Hold for 20 seconds without bouncing.
Sit with your feet facing each other, and knees pointing outwards. Press your knees downward as far as you can and hold.