Mobility exercises can benefit youth as they help improve their range of motion, prevent injuries, and promote physical health. To optimize the perks, young people can integrate flexibility training into their regular fitness routine. Here are some flexibility exercises for youth:
When you perform the seated hamstring stretch, you elongate the muscles. This consistent stretching over time helps increase the length of the muscle fibers, which can lead to improved flexibility. Stretching the hamstrings regularly can lead to an increased range of motion at the hip joint and the knee joint.
To perform the seated hamstring stretch, sit on the floor and stretch your legs out in front of you. Bend one knee and place the sole of your foot against the inner thigh of your extended leg. Lean forward at your hips, reaching for your toes with your hands, and hold the stretch for several seconds. Repeat the stretch on the other leg to get uniform flexibility.
Flexibility exercises like a calf stretch elongate the muscles, promoting increased muscle length and flexibility. A calf stretch helps reduce muscle tightness and tension, managing discomfort and the risk of injuries associated with tight calf muscles. The stretch can lead to an increased range of motion at the ankle joint. This can help in activities that require total ankle flexibility, like running, jumping, and dancing.
For an effective calf stretch, find a wall, a strong post, or a railing that offers support. Stand facing the surface or wall and place your hands flat on it at shoulder height for balance. Stand with one foot forward and one foot back, and flex your front knee slightly while keeping your rear leg straight. Lean your body weight toward the wall, keeping your back leg and heel firmly on the ground. With this movement, you can experience a stretching sensation in the calf muscle of the rear leg. Hold the stretch for a few seconds and switch to the other leg.
Flexible quadriceps can lead to better posture and alignment, which can help prevent knee and lower back pain. Youth can also perform quadriceps stretching to improve posture and gait. When the quadriceps are flexible, standing up straight and walking with a natural, efficient stride is easier.
To perform a quadriceps stretch, stand upright with your feet hip-width apart. Place one hand on a wall or hold onto a chair for support. Lift one foot off the ground, and bend your knee, bringing your heel toward your buttocks. Reach back with the hand on the same side as the lifted leg and grasp your ankle or the top of your foot. Pull your ankle or foot gently toward your buttocks to stretch the quadriceps.
If youth spend too much time at their desks doing homework, a shoulder stretch can alleviate tension and tightness in the upper back and shoulder muscles. For a shoulder stretch, stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and reach your right arm straight across your chest. With your left hand, gently grasp your right arm just above the elbow and pull your right arm closer to your chest.
Keep your shoulders down and relaxed during the stretch, and maintain a gentle, sustained pull for several seconds while retaining controlled breathing. After several seconds, release the stretch, lower your right arm, and switch to the other arm.
Practice Regular Flexibility Exercises
For youth to enhance their flexibility, they can work with a qualified stretchologist to create a customized static stretching routine tailored to their needs and goals. A stretching expert can assist them in proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation stretches, helping them achieve greater flexibility. They can also assist youth in deepening their stretches physically, allowing for a more controlled approach to boosting flexibility.