Martial Art Stretching Involving
Should Children Stretch?
Stretching involving children is very controversial and depends highly on the sport. Some sport coaches suggest that young children do not necessarily need to stretch in the traditional way as their concentration span is quite low to hold the stretches correctly anyway. Another argument is that: After a child has been in the classroom for 2 hours and get a 20 minute break outside, do they stretch for 15 minutes before playing their game of football in the playground? NO!
However a lot of coaches believe that by stretching traditionally it means they will continue when they are older and it instills good practice.
Probably the best way to ensure children are fully prepared for exercise in the martial arts is lots of dynamic stretching, such as high rising kicks, leg raises, arm swings etc. These can be incorporated into fun exercises as well. Light static stretching at the end of the lesson will also teach them the importance of stretching as they get older.
It is important that children only stretch lightly as their muscles and bones have not finished growing and may become damaged if excess pressure is applied. The best type of stretching for children is dynamic stretching because this is their body’s own natural range and is pressure free.
Children should never be forced into a stretching position and no external pressure should be applied.
The main fault with children is that they do not get into the right positions to start with. You will find that they do allsorts of things to distort their bodies to get themselves further down. This is a good place to start. Ensure that their body posture is correct and then encourage them to simple relax down as far as they can.