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11 Apr 2006

Stretching children
I teach dancing to 3-12 year olds, and i have started studying fitness and nutrition! It says that it isnt a good idea to stretch young children as you can damage/pull there muscles and it could affect them in later years? Now im not sure what to do! I was always tought and told to warm up and stretch students so to get them to there best physical shape and flexability!

What should i do, what kind of stretching is good for them and what should be avoided?
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Expert
FitnessDoc
fitnessdoc

01 Jan 0001

Hi Jamie

The thing about children is that they are so naturally flexible that they perhaps don't need quite as much stretching as an adult would need. And there is this risk that they can overstretch - that risk is there for adults as well, it's just a lot less likely to happen because they are naturally inflexible because of the bone and muscle that is, for want of a better word, more developed. But the principle is still the same - children do need to warm up, because just like everyone else, they can strain muscles. However, because they are so flexible already, they may not need to stretch to warm up. Instead, I believe that it is sufficient to simply let them do some light exercise before the main exercise starts. So if it is a junior soccer team, then a light jog around the field, some warm up exercises with the ball, and then maybe a tiny bit of stretching is good. The function of the stretching is more to just settle everyone down and get a chance to talk to them, it's not so much a flexibility session. Bottom line - don't neglect stretching, but also realise that it's not absolutely essential to their exercise just yet.

Good luck
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