Stretching: Before or After Your Workout?



We watch our children jump, run, hang from monkey bars but do we ever think about the importance of stretching?

Children in general are pretty flexible, but as those teenage years rear their head, things change. Where they once could touch their toes, they can now barely touch their knees. What happened?

During puberty, children often become less flexible as their bodies are changing rapidly. Some have huge growth spurts and some don’t. Their bones are growing so fast that muscles need a little time to catch up and stretch, limiting their flexibility temporarily. Don’t worry, it all catches up sooner than later. That's why it’s important during this time, to help those poor muscles out by stretching daily, and not only on game day.

A common myth is you should stretch before you workout or play a sport. WRONG! Right now you're probably saying to yourself: "WHAT ... that’s crazy!"

Give me a second to explain myself...

We all know that stretching prevents injuries and improves athletic performance but there is a step that needs to happen before we stretch. It’s called a warm up! Before your kids start any exercise, they should do a low intensity aerobic exercise to get the blood flowing to the muscles i.e. jumping jacks, high knees, or butt kicks. This should last about 10 minutes. I can’t stress this enough to parents! Stretching cold muscles can lead to injuries so please share this with your children.

Now that we’ve got that covered, it’s time to stretch. Warm muscles will have a greater range of motion vs cold muscles. Teach your children that when they stretch, it should only feel like a gentle pull and not be painful.

AT H2T we hold each stretch for 10 seconds, doing 2 reps, and covering all body parts. After your workout it’s great to end with a stretch as well, to help prevent stiffness and aid in the recovery process for muscles.

So back to the question: stretch before or after? Both is the answer but just make sure your children are nice and warmed up before they start.

Remember to keep it fun. After all, you want them to do this! You should also join them as everyone can benefit from a daily stretching session.

Until next time ... Stay Fit - Stay Healthy!

About the Author: Sue Forberg is the Director at H2T Elite Dryland Training Inc. H2T is a multi-faceted state of the art dryland facility specializing in children the ages 5-16. A gym for kids you say... absolutely. Their primary goal is to enhance the quality of life for young people through exercise and proper nutrition. H2T has created a fun age appropriate dryland program that gives every child what he/she needs from a developmental standpoint. Find out more at www.H2Tdryland.com.

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