In lieu of the video that has been circulating, we found it imperative to give some tips on how to properly stretch your children.
Here are the following things you need to know regarding stretching:
1. Your muscles must be warm before attempting any stretching
Before any stretching should happen your muscles should be warmed up. The muscle fibers need to time to adjust to amount of tension that you will be placing on the muscle and warming up will put your muscles in a state where they will be ready for it.
2. There are 2 types of stretching: Dynamic and Static
Depending on your intention, whether it is stretching for athletic performance or to achieve flexibility, there are 2 types of stretches dynamic and static.
Dynamic – Dynamic stretching is where you stretch your muscles past the point of tension in short bouts and movements. Such as doing lunges, high kicks, inch-worms etc. This form of stretching would be ideal for preparing for a sports practice or any athletic activity.
Static – Static stretching is where you place your muscles into an elongated state for a certain period of time to achieve flexibility. This would be the most ideal for achieving flexibility, and also should be done at the end of practice or athletic activity.
3. It takes 30 seconds minimum of holding a stretch for the muscle to fully elongate. Stretching is progressive, it cannot be achieved in 1 day.
What we don’t realize is that stretching has a lot to do with the central nervous system. It takes time for your body to adjust to any stimulus we give it. During individual sessions it takes a minimum of 30 seconds holding a stretch to achieve any type of long lasting results. Stretching is also progressive and takes time. Pushing the legs past the point of tension severely or for too long such as in the splits video if your body is not ready for it can create tears and injuries.
4. You should not be stretching into pain.
As state above you should not feel pain into stretching. Now there are levels of discomfort that are expected especially if you do not stretch regularly. However if you are going past where the discomfort is controlled if can result in pain and injury. Even small micro tears can result in being set back weeks into stretching. We must all keep this in mind also when having partner stretching.
5. Before stretching any complex stretches such as splits, all muscle groups pertaining to the position must be stretched first.
When stretching in complex stretches such as bridges and splits, it is important to make sure that all individual muscles involved are stretched first. Here is an example for the splits what groups must be stretched and in what order:
Splits – Ankles, Calves, Lateral Side of the Thigh, Posterior Hips, Stomach, Anterior Hips, Adductors, Hamstrings.
All of these muscles must be warmed up and stretched before going into the split.
6. Breathing with your stretches is how to control the discomfort of stretching.
By breathing you allow your body to naturally expand the stretch. Stretches should go until the point of tension, and breathing should be the natural way to expand the muscles at that point.
These concepts have to be understood by any coach for maximum flexibility to be achieved. Forcing someone into a stretch does no constitute as producing flexibility, especially when verbally and emotionally you can see that it is producing severe pain and discomfort. We hope that you got a lot from our tips. Bring this back to your home or practice and go achieve flexibility the correct way!