Tuesday, June 2, 2009

How Old Does My Child Have to Be to Exercise?

There are several theories out there about how old children should be when they start weight training. When looking at those theories, you have to consider the exercise program. Should 7 and 8 year olds be lifting heavy weights? No. Should they be doing body weight resisted exercises that will help develop correct movement patterns? Definately! Also termed 'functional exercises,' these exercises are an excellent tool to help a skater develop correct biomechanical alignment movement at an early age. Why wait until a skater is 12 years old with knee problems? Head off injury in the teen-age years by promoting health and strength at an early age. A skater needs to develop balance and symmetry of muscle flexibility, balance, and strength to complete jumps and spins properly, as well as core strength to keep a spin centered and check out of a jump with strength.
Basic exercises for the hip stabilizers, quadriceps, and hamstrings will help a skater with the alignment of the ankle, knee, and hip, as well as improve single leg stability. There is a balance component to many exercises; therefore, you are training two components at once. Training these muscles at a young age will help develop muscle memory that will last throughout the skater's life, and will prevent development of bad habits and movement patterns. Sk8Strong's "Developing the Youth Skater" contains a comprehensive exercise program for a skater to develop these correct movement patterns and more. A skater will learn how to use the core muscles for stability, correct lower body alignment, balance in various positions, and become a better skater through sport specific exercise.