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Cool Downs and Stretches

By Laura
Age Range: 5 to 11

Get all the kids to run around...then shout FREEZE... choose a child to be 'it'. They must go around and collect another child as if they are a train (they do this while walking). Then when they have collected everyone, it's best to work on flexibility after your walk, when muscles are the most warm and pliable.

Do these stretches slowly – never to the point of discomfort. Hold each stretch for six to eight slow, deep breaths. Imagine releasing muscle tension with each exhale. Begin each stretch standing up, and feel free to rest one hand on something for balance if necessary.

  • Calf and hip stretch. Take a giant step forward with your left foot. Bend your left knee (but don't push it beyond your foot); keep your right heel on the ground and your right leg straight behind you. Keep your abdominal muscles gently contracted so there's no excess arch in your back. You should feel the stretch in both your right calf and hip. Hold for several deep breaths. Then switch legs and repeat.
  • Back and hamstring stretch. Stand with your feet together and your knees slightly bent. Lean forward from the waist and let your arms and head hang loosely toward the ground. Don't necessarily try to touch your toes – just let your body hang under its own weight and ease into the stretch with each deep exhale. Slowly stand up (to avoid light-headedness) and repeat.
  • Shin and thigh stretch. Grasp your right toes with your right hand, and gently pull your foot up behind you, keeping your right knee pointed toward the ground. Your heel doesn't have to reach your buttocks – just pull to the point of feeling a gentle stretch in the front of the thigh, hip, and shin. Hold for several deep breaths. Then switch legs and repeat.

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