10 Fun Stretching Activities for Kids

We’ve all heard that stretching is good for us. This is true for kids too! What better way to get in the benefits of stretching WITH your kids? Some of the advantages of stretching are:

  • Lessening the feelings of stress and anxiety
  • Refocusing your attention on daily tasks
  • Wake up the mind/body when fatigued or feeling groggy
  • Agility and balance in everyday movements
  • More range of motion in the joints
  • Less muscle soreness after a big workout
  • Ease & efficiency of everyday activities

And that’s just the beginning! Try one or all of these stretches at a time to make it a full workout, or do separately to bring focus and concentration back into your day. These can be done anywhere, including in a seated position and most are even more fun when done together as a group or with a partner, or as a family.

  • Reach for the stars: Stand, sit or lie on your back. Reach your arms over your head and try to get taller, creating more space between your ribs and the top of your hips on each side of your torso. If you’re standing, lift up onto the toes and reach even higher. You’d be amazed at how much more room you have to take a deep breath and just feel that release of weight from your lower back and spine.

         

  • Reach for your toes: Stand or sit. If standing, hinge at your hips and bend the knees to reach for your toes. If needed, bend your knees enough to rest/drape the chest over your thighs to reach for the ground and/or toes. When seated, bend over your thighs and allow the chest to drape over your thighs and reach for the floor/toes or as far as you can. Feel the stretch in the lower back and the hips as well as the entire back of the torso and even into the shoulders and neck.

           reach for your toes

  • Side reach: In either standing or seated position, reach one arm over the head and then bend over to the opposite side. Anchor the same side foot (if standing) or same side sit bone (if seated) to keep from tipping over and feel the stretch in the side of the torso, hip and arm, and shoulder. Hold for a breath or two to really feel the stretch and create more room on that one side. Repeat on the other side holding for a breath or two. Repeat 2-3 repetitions on each side for a lovely feeling along each side of the trunk.

          bend arms

  • Cat/Cow: In standing – bend the knees and hinge at the hips to bring the hands to the thighs. This is the starting position for standing. In all 4?s, bring the hands under the shoulders and the knees under the hips. In seated, hinge forward with the hands on the thighs. For any of these positions: Round the back to the ceiling while dropping the head towards the thighs or floor – this is Cat; then arch the back and tip the tailbone and chin upward – this is called Cow.

           

  • Chest opener: Can be done standing or from a seated position. Open the arms out to the side at shoulder height and keep reaching back behind the torso – you will feel a stretch across the chest. Hold this position or close and open the arms for a more dynamic/moving stretch.

         

  • Figure 4 stretch seated or standing. In standing, sit back and down (mini squat) and cross one ankle over and above the other knee with the toes pulled back to the shins. In standing this will also be a great balance challenge and in seated, you can use the hands to press the inside thigh of the crossed leg down to enhance the stretch along the outside of the hips. Repeat on the other side holding the stretch for 30-60 seconds.

         figure 4 stretch

  • Leg swings: Stand facing to one side next to a wall. Hold the close hand to the wall for balance (or practice in the middle of the floor for a balance challenge). Lift the outside leg and with the knee bent slightly or a lot depending on the flexibility of your hips, hip flexors, and hamstrings – swing the lifted leg forward and back. Repeat 5-10 swings and then do the other leg in the same position.

         leg swinging

  • Arm swings: Lift your arms overhead and then let them swing down (if seated, watch out for the armrests or other objects that might get in your way. Repeat this motion 5-10 times using the inhale to lift and the exhale to swing the arms down.

        arm swings

  • Rotation: Either standing with feet under the hips or seated with the feet under your knees; reach the elbows in a bent position (90-degrees) under the shoulders with the palms up or down (or you can rotate the wrist while rotating the ribs too). Rotate your ribs to one side then the other – imaging that the ribs are like a bottle top and you are twisting the top off/on over your hips. 
  • Focused breathing (can be done, standing, while walking, seated, or lying down): Breath in through your nose-say inhale for 1 to yourself; breath out through your nose or mouth-say exhale for 1 to yourself. Continue to count or take 10 breaths and see how much more alive and awake you are afterward!

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