Many coaches incorporate stretching into their practices and games. Yet, many young athletes don’t quite understand how important stretching is. They might rush through their stretches or use the time to catch up with their friends. Off the field, they might forget all about stretching, which means they’re only doing it when a coach is in front of them.
However, it’s essential for your young athlete to also practice at home to improve their performance, prevent future injuries, and recover quickly so they’re ready for the next day.
As a parent, you want to set your child up for success with their athletic endeavors. Understanding why stretching is important can help you talk to your child about it and ensure they are practicing it frequently.
Here are some guidelines about how young athletes should stretch to get the maximum benefits.
When to stretch
Athletes should stretch before and after undergoing a strenuous workout. They should do some sort of dynamic warm-up first, such as walking, jogging, doing jumping jacks, or marching in place to get their body warmed up. Then, they can focus on static stretches that target the muscle groups they will be working on during their workout. When the activity is over, they should cool down with some static stretches that target the muscle groups they just worked.
Athletes can also benefit from stretching at night to loosen up their muscles, especially if they did an intense workout earlier in the day. In addition, nighttime stretching can help young minds calm down, making it easier for them to fall asleep and helping them stay asleep all night long.
How often to stretch
At the very least, athletes should stretch before and after each workout to help their bodies flush out any harmful waste that may have built up in their muscles. As long as they are not feeling any pain, stretching more frequently should not pose a problem for most athletes and can benefit them in several ways.
Who should avoid stretching
Talk to your child’s doctor if they are experiencing pain, inflammation, or swelling, as these can be signs of an injury that could be made worse from stretching.
Stretching as recovery
Kids might feel too tired after a game or practice to stretch, but they should view it as a vital part of the recovery process. Stretching after a challenging workout can increase blood flow and help your athlete feel less sore the next day.
Need Help Stretching? StretchSpot Can Help!
We love working with young athletes to help them stretch better to maximize their athletic performance. At StretchSpot, we help athletes in all kinds of sports, including soccer, basketball, baseball, tennis, swimming, and more.
Our sessions are as short as 20 minutes and can make a significant difference in your child’s athletic performance. If you’re a parent of young athletes in the South Bay area, we’d love to hear from you! You can learn more about the StretchSpot on our website, or schedule an appointment for your child.