Calling all soccer moms and dads…
by Michelle Naito, PT, DPT, OCS Physical Therapist
Strengthening and stretching are not just important for adults, but for your kids too. I was running by Crissy Field the other day, in awe of the young athletes giving it their all. I smiled over how insanely cute these kids were, sprinting like a herd of sheep towards the ball. However, due to the “all out” intensity our kids display, muscle injuries are very common. I’ve coached youth sports in the past and know how difficult it is to find fun warm-up or strength training exercises that won’t bore kids to tears. Here are a few that you can try with your little athletes:
The Seal is a great stretch for the front of the hips and back.
Start by lying flat on your belly, and slowly prop to your forearms or support the chin in your hands. At this point, seal noises are a great way to get a good laugh. If your child is having no difficulty with this stretch you can progress by propping up to the hands.
The Inch Worm is a great hamstring stretch for the back of the legs. First have your child stand and touch their toes. Next, keeping the knees straight, walk the hands out into the push up position. Inch the feet towards the hands keeping the knees straight until a stretch is felt in the back of the legs. Repeat.
The Butterfly is a great inner thigh stretch and a great way to get some group interaction. Start by sitting upright with good posture, with both knees bent. Slowly move both knees apart so that the bottoms of the feet are touching each other. Since this is the butterfly, you can talk about flying to far away places as your knees move up and down to progress the stretch. Disneyland seems to be one of the popular destinations.
The Bear Walk
The bear walk is a great way to incorporate the “core muscle” group. To start, prop yourself up onto your hands and feet, with your buns in the air. Keeping your knees and elbows straight, walk forwards or backwards. For an extra challenge you can race to see who the fastest bear is, or to add some fun, growling is the key!
Why not learn something while you’re stretching…Did you know that flamingo’s often stand and sleep one leg? Well now that you do…lets do the flamingo. Have your child try to stand and balance on one leg. This is a great way to incorporate balance or ankle strengthening. If this is not challenging enough, bend the opposite knee and pull the ankle towards the bottom until a stretch is felt in the front of the thigh. Aim to point the knee cap to the floor for a proper quadriceps stretch. Hold for 10 sec and repeat on the other side.