Have You Watched a 10 Year Old Touch Their Toes Lately?

When was the last time you noticed your child’s or any other child’s range of motion and flexibility?  Have you noticed they have problems touching their toes or even ankles with straight legs?  In addition to the obesity and sedentary epidemic, there has become a lack of muscle flexibility epidemic.  In working with youth ages 8-13 on a regular basis, a large percentage of them male and female have horrible flexibility.  Their lower back and hamstrings are so tight and underused they can barely stand on one foot much less bend at the waist to touch their foot.  Ask a child to perform a sumo stretch as in the picture below and you will be astounded by what you see.

Flexibility is one of the core components of overall fitness.  Yes, it is a use it or lose it skill.  Children are more pliable than adults due to their bones still hardening as they mature and hit puberty.  With kids sitting and starting at video screens more often, they are also losing range of motion that is extremely difficult to get back as an adult.  Does this mean you have to enroll your child in Bikram Yoga?  Absolutely not.  What it does mean is teach your child some basic warm and cool down stretches as part of their sports and activities.  Proper dynamic (in motion) stretching before movement, and static stretching after movement is completed.

While touching your toes is not an Olympic event unto itself, practicing flexibility movements does reduce injuries and is part of a healthy lifestyle.  Take a few minutes with your students, children, and athletes to work on their stretches in good form.  It’s the habits we instill in them now that change our next generation.

 

Matt Peale has seen his fair share of kids have the flexibility of a 70 year old as an NASM Certified Personal Trainer.  Contact him at mpeale@ltmacademy.com and check out Learn To Move Academy for your school and sports organization.

Too Specialized too Soon

Spending thousands of dollars on a single sport for a child only to see that child get burned out in 3 years, is that a quality time and financial investment?  Unfortunately a large percentage of parents all around the United States have bought in hook, line, and sinker into this horrendous brainwashing.  The Tulane Institute of Sports Medicine has seen the surgical curve for overuse injuries drop from 18-20 year olds, to 12-14 year olds.  Why is this happening?  Because kids are being wrongfully told they have to compete in one sport only from the age of 6-8 and up.

When we are talking about long term athletic development, sports specialization does not occur until after puberty.  Children are still learning fundamental movement skills to achieve basic strength, balance, and stability.  Not to mention their mental capacity to focus on more intense competition is also still being developed.  Youth sports has become a big business and has lost its focus on creating a well rounded, athletic child.  The importance to win now and forfeit learning has become ingrained way to early in a child’s life.

What can parents do to reduce this one sport win now pressure?  Sign your child up for multiple sports while they are young and let them decide what they enjoy.  All of the top professional athletes played a variety of sports growing up.  It was not until they reached junior high or high school they began to specialize more, and even then they starred in multiple sports.  Do not let the pressure of coaches who want to line their pockets be the deciding influence on your 9 year old.  Registering them for exercise classes at your gym/health club is another great way to show them alternative healthy activities for those not interested in specific sports.  Learn To Move Academy is developing a system for individuals to purchase so children learn these fundamental movements at home.  Finally make sure they have fun.  Learning winning and losing is important and not everyone is a champion for the season, but having fun in the process is vital to returning for more seasons.

 

Matt Peale is an NASM certified personal trainer since 2008 and works with youth both as a trainer and partner in Learn To Move Academy.  Email Matt at mpeale@ltmacademy.com with any questions and comments.

Balancing Act for Seniors

Slips, trips, falls.  Broken hips, wrists, and twisted ankles.  Taking a wobbly step and recovering as a 30 or 40 year old something becomes more difficult as a 60 and 70 year old something.  One of the first physical attributes to go as a senior citizen is balance.  Often times we take balance for granted that it will always be there when we need it.  The unfortunate true story is that balance is a use it or lose it skill.

According to the CDC, one-third of adults over 65 fall each year.  Some of the reasons may be medical such as positional vertigo, Labrynthitis, and vestibular neuronitis.  In these cases a doctor can diagnose and treat with medication the symptoms and or causes of the disease.  When no medical condition exists, it is often due to atrophy and lack of use due to sedentary lifestyle.  The good news for non medical issues is that balance can be relearned and to an extent restored.  In teaching senior exercise classes, one common area they all want to work on are movements to regain the balance they lost over time.  Quality of life for otherwise healthy seniors is typically top of the list for why they exercise.  So the question becomes, what can someone do to stabilize and improve their balance.

A simple yet can feel complex move is to stand on one leg and bend at the waist to touch your knee, ankle, or toes.  Sounds easy enough, and you would be very surprised to see how many people regardless of age fall over from this basic task.  Another balance move even more basic is to stand on one leg for 5 to 10 seconds.  Try doing it on each leg not just your dominate side.  Once these movements are mastered, do them with eyes closed.  Not having any visual cues is a game changer and can be more challenging then when you first started eyes open.  There are many pieces of equipment to use like BOSU balls, physio balls, and balance plates, but if standing on one leg is difficult, no use investing in equipment to clutter the house.

 

How do you know if your balance is really off, try doing an everyday task on one leg.  At first it will be difficult, but if you can master it in a few attempts that is normal and remember to use both legs individually.  If the task still cannot be mastered after multiple attempts, it may be time to invest into a program that can stabilize, strengthen, and improve coordination of your muscles.  According to the National Council on Aging, falls are the leading cause of fatal and non fatal injuries for older Americans.  Look into a program like Learn To Move Academy, and don’t be part of these statistics, get up and move around everyday.  Just being active may save your life!

 

Matt Peale is an NASM Certified Personal Trainer since 2008 and a partner in New Orleans area based Learn To Move Academy.  You can Like Learn To Move Academy on Facebook and email Matt at mpeale@ltmacademy.com.

Optimistic or Realistic: My kid is getting a sports scholarship to college

How many times have we heard the bragging parent in the stands about how their child is the cream of the crop and getting a sports scholarship to college? A part of this problem is the conversation is being heard at U10 and U8 level sports!  The unfortunate dreams of a parent being put on their child whom doesn’t share the same dream, but parents do it anyway.  The NCAA says about 2% of all high schools athletes earn a scholarship, how many U10 and U8 players will even play high school athletics?  Let’s not forget interests change as physical development changes.  So yes, let’s continue filling our children with unrealistic expectations instead of being loving and supporting.

As the surgical curve for ACL, MCL, and rotator cuff injuries has changed from college age to middle school age athletes, take a step back and analyze the situation.  We are hell bent on teaching and promoting one sport instead of movements and multiple sports for the reality of maybe one player on a youth sports team getting a scholarship. As the commercial says by the NCAA, “most of us are going pro in something else,” most of high school athletes aren’t playing another game after their senior year is over.

Learn To Move Academy offers professional development seminars on long term athletic development  and a comprehensive web based program for grades K-9. Learn more about how to prevent injuries and improve cognitive behavior by implementing LTMA at your school and sports organization today.  Contact learntomoveacademy@gmail.com for info.