Safe warm up exercises for Children
Warming up for any activity, whether it is a scoot in the park, dance or golf class is important not only for adults but for little tikes as well. A warm up consisting of repetitive movements that gradually increases range of motion and intensity can help prepare the body physiologically for greater demands on the cardiovascular system.
Warming up involves moving large muscles of the body to increase circulation so that blood and hence more oxygen is supplied to the muscles to meet the demands of increased activity. Warm ups should also focus on increasing mobility of the joints of the body such as the spine, hips, ankles, wrists and knees. In general, doing a warm up that moves the body in a variety of directions will ensure that the entire body is prepared to move in any direction during the activity and hence reducing the likelihood of injury as well as muscle soreness.
Check out this simple and fun warm up routine for children from as young as 2 years of age. Don’t worry too much about when they should be breathing just allow them to breathe naturally with each movement without holding their breath. Do 3-5 repetitions of each exercise separately or join them together to create a sequence in subsequent sessions to create a flow and test their memory of the sequence. Be creative with young ones and do these movements with them in the form of a “Simon says” game or use lots of imagery to get them interested in moving.
1. Cat and Cow
Improves spine and hip mobility
- Start with the body in a table top position with hand under shoulders and knees under hips.
- Curl the spine into cat position to elongate the lower back.
- Arch the back to stretch the front of the body and shoulders in cow position.
2. Tail Wag
- Improves spine and hip mobility sideways.
- Start in table top positon. Lift one foot off the floor and pretend that the shinbone is like a tail. Wag your “tail” from side to side and allow your eyes to follow your tail.
- Repeat with the other foot.
3. V pose
Stretches the back and all muscles along the back of the leg, promotes upper body strength and core strength.
- From table top position, lift both knees off the floor and lift your bottom up in the air as high as possible. Push your hand into the floor as though you want your bottom to reach the ceiling.
4. Standing roll down
Improves standing spine mobility and stretches the entire back of the body, trains body awareness.
- Start in a standing position with arms reaching up to the ceiling and roll down towards the floor one bone at a time. If continuing the exercise from V pose above, walk the hands towards the feet and roll up to standing by stacking one bone at a time like a slinky.
Improves spine mobility in rotation, promotes hip and core stability.
- Start standing upright with arms to the side and rotate body side to side without the hips moving.