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Flexibility issues...

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Macabee

New Member
Aug 25, 2008
41
Tennessee
So, I know how some kids are just naturally super flexible, but not in this family. How big of an issue is that for a 4 yo just starting gymnastics? Sitting down she can straddle maybe 100 degrees, and with her legs straight in front of her she can just touch her ankle bones. I know she gets it from me, I can't even straddle more than 90 degrees and even that hurts after a while. I'm trying to work with her on it, but I'm afraid to push her too hard. Is this something she will be able to work through, or do gymnasts just have to be naturally flexible??
 
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GymTwinsMom

Guest
When she gets more into the sport, her flexibility will come. Practice it at home, have her do oversplits on a couch or a mat. In DD's warm up, they have to do oversplits for 2 min. It will take some time though if she isn't naturally flexible.
 
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flippymonkeysmom

Guest
My dd is so not naturally flexible. To be honest - it definitely hurts her at times. I have often wondered how much easier things would have come for her if she had that natural flexibility. That being said she is 11 and a level 7 and does very well in competitions. She has to work really hard on her flexibility issues though.
 

Macabee

New Member
Aug 25, 2008
41
Tennessee
When she gets more into the sport, her flexibility will come. Practice it at home, have her do oversplits on a couch or a mat. In DD's warm up, they have to do oversplits for 2 min. It will take some time though if she isn't naturally flexible.
Oh, oversplits are definately out for at least a while. She can't even do any splits, but she says she wants to. I tried to work with her yesterday on them and she said it really hurt. I know it does, but how do you get a 4yo to deal with a little bit of pain so they can acheive their goals? I did tell her that when I was little I took gymnastics but was never any good because my mommy didn't care enough to work with me on it at home. She gave me a huge hug after I said that and told me she loved me. Oh, aren't those the momments a mom lives for???:D
 
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GymTwinsMom

Guest
Oh, oversplits are definately out for at least a while. She can't even do any splits, but she says she wants to. I tried to work with her yesterday on them and she said it really hurt. I know it does, but how do you get a 4yo to deal with a little bit of pain so they can acheive their goals? I did tell her that when I was little I took gymnastics but was never any good because my mommy didn't care enough to work with me on it at home. She gave me a huge hug after I said that and told me she loved me. Oh, aren't those the momments a mom lives for???:D

Aw! That is the reason why we are called "moms." Ok, since the oversplits are out, push her down to her max. Then when she tells you to stop pushing, you hold it there and maybe count to 20 or 30. And day by day it will graudually go lower. She will get it, especially with that much heart.:D
 
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BlairBob

Guest
At 4 years old, even with inflexible parents, she still has plenty of time to get flexible before 6; if she were to compete at 6 years old.

I have seen many level 3's and 4's lack full splits besides later compulsory levels.

Honestly, my boys at 6 and 7 were very wussy about split training initially. During one's first day there was a good amount of crying and " I hate you coach. " Eventually, they get over this or don't.

I was not pushing them down and it was the first time we held it for 60 seconds. Even then, form wasn't where I preferred but it was a long time compared to the usual 20-30 seconds they had been used to.

There is no need to train oversplits until you have hip straight splits. It's novel and cute but useless.

Even at the ages pre pubescence, they have a high chance of achieving the splits. However, once in their teens, their probability gets way smaller.

Even by getting kids to hang on things and do basic flexibility as early as possible, ups their chances of being flexible later in life.

Honestly, beginners should not be pushed down. If they are lazy, they will either be ok with this or eventually need to realize that their lack of flexbility is hindering their process and they will get with the program. Partner stretching is a very complicated skill and should be only done by someone with enough experience who has learned how to feel and sense. Very much like a good seasoned body work professional masseuse or chiro.
 

MdGymMom01

Active Member
Mar 5, 2008
2,236
North America
My dd started gymnastics and doing splits when she was about 6 years old. It took her probably over a full year or so to get them all the way down but she practiced them literally almost every day. So it does take time so you need to be patient.

What may help is having her do her splits after she has had a bath. The warm water helps loosen her muscles and it may help her get further down in the splits.

I agree with BlairBob in that assisted stretching and pushing them down in the split can be dangerous if not done correctly. So it is best to have her do it herself and just make it a DAILY practice. It will hurt a little at first but she will see that gradually it will become less painful.

Goodluck! The good thing is that she is still young so you have time on your side!!
 
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flippymonkeysmom

Guest
And if it makes you feel better - my flexibility challenged dd does have all her splits all the way down now - it just took some time. Now her shoulder and back flexibility - we're still working on that :cool:
 

gymch34

Member
Aug 2, 2008
322
east coast
She is 4- DO NOT PUSH her down in her splits or make her work on her splits at home. She will not enjoy the sport anymore, and that is what she should be doing at her age. She had plenty of time when her body is more mature to work her splits. Let her coaches work on her splits in her class.

Gymnastics is a MARATHON not a SPRINT!:D
 

ginnymac

Parent/Coach
Coach
Former Gymnast
Proud Parent
Jun 26, 2008
386
I can think of few things that could potentially turn a child off to gymnastics than forcing flexibility on a 4 year old. As a physical therapist, I implore you not to force or push on your DD to increase her flexibility at this age!!

As she progresses in the sport, she will learn how to stretch properly (with correct coaching) and will progress. Let her practice sitting in a straddle or pike and touching her toes, or standing with feet together and trying to touch her toes....that should be enough for a 4 year old.

When I think of a young child in a preschool class being pushed way beyond her natural limits, it makes me think of all those very young Chinese kids in gymnastics videos where you see them crying while having their backs, legs or shoulders stretched.:(

It also concerns me when I read about so many young (5 and under) gymnasts repeatedly doing back walkovers on floor and beam. Young gymnasts tend to rely heavily of their back flexibility and can cause damage at this age.

Kids only get one body....let's keep it healthy and refrain from over stretching at such a young age!
 

MdGymMom01

Active Member
Mar 5, 2008
2,236
North America
http://www.smileycentral.com/?partner=ZSzeb001_ZNman000 Wow--when I replied I didn't realize she was 4 YRS OLD ! For some reason I thought she was older...anyway I agree with a lot of the coaches that say having a 4 yr old stretch is really unnecessary. This is just me, but I didn't have my dd in any forn of gym class over an hr a week until she was 6 years old. Before then she wasn't doing any type of organized activity.

Also, my dd was very self motivated at a young age and she herself would sit in splits at home watching tv when she was about 7 without me having to encourage her. That's just her personality.

But back to the pre-school aspect, the flexibility will come on it's own. I wouldn't even worry about it untill it is needed like in the Level 4 floor routine (not sure about the earlier levels and their skills). Like many people have said, gymnastics is a marathon and it takes time to develop these skills. And it should be FUN!!!


 

gymdog

Well-Known Member
Coach
Former Gymnast
Proud Relative
Jul 5, 2007
5,121
I agree that it does not take working at home with parents to get good in gymnastics. My parents never did gymnastics and have little to no interest in it. There is virtually no way they would have had me stretch at home even if they were told it was necessary and it did not hinder my progression to high competitive levels.

Out of my sisters, I was the least naturally flexible as a child, which is unfortunate for me. Now I am much more flexible than anyone in my family because of gymnastics, but it's hard won. As they go through the movements their flexibility and muscle control will improve at this early stage. When they get to a higher level and older age, stretching may need to increase in order to perform the competitive routines, but for now, I doubt that enforced stretching is necessary for her to progress.
 

Macabee

New Member
Aug 25, 2008
41
Tennessee
Thanks for all if the replies so far. They have really been helpful. We haven't done any kind of stretches for the past 2 days. She has practiced some handstands (which are getting better and better), and I am still catching her doing headstands on the chair - which I forbade her to do. I'm glad to know that I don't need to push this with her and that she's still at such a young age that flexibility is a nonissue!!
 
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BlairBob

Guest
Basically with children this young, you want them to do it of their own accord. If anything, make it a game and stretch or do handstands with her. She might enjoy it. If she doesn't or gets bored, it's time to do something else for awhile.

When I was young, I just did it whenever and was a slinky till I decided to master the splits when I was in HS. My parents said it was great, but never really pushed me unless they wanted to challenge me by asking 15s more or just a lil bit more or more reps of pushups or situps
 

taylortumbles

Coach
Coach
Proud Parent
Jun 29, 2008
106
My daughter is 4 and I am the gym owner. She takes two classes per week, but she is far from the star in either class, if anything, she is behind compared to her classmates. I don't care either. What bothers me is other parents who hear she is my daughter and then have high expectations for her. I'm not going to push gymnastics on her. She enjoys it even if she isn't great at it. She also likes to practice stretches and headstands, cartwheels, and front rolls at home. Very self motivated. No pushing involved. She can be a soccer player, volleyball player, dancer, twirler, gymnast, cheerleader, girl scout, etc. As long as she is happy, I don't care which activity she decides to take up.
I wouldn't push practicing at home at this age. If she decides to do it on her own great, if not, its no biggie.
 
My daughter is 4 and I am the gym owner. She takes two classes per week, but she is far from the star in either class, if anything, she is behind compared to her classmates. I don't care either. What bothers me is other parents who hear she is my daughter and then have high expectations for her. I'm not going to push gymnastics on her. She enjoys it even if she isn't great at it. She also likes to practice stretches and headstands, cartwheels, and front rolls at home. Very self motivated. No pushing involved. She can be a soccer player, volleyball player, dancer, twirler, gymnast, cheerleader, girl scout, etc. As long as she is happy, I don't care which activity she decides to take up.
I wouldn't push practicing at home at this age. If she decides to do it on her own great, if not, its no biggie.

We sort of had a situation like that our gym owners has two daughters and both did gymn for a little bit and then quit. she did not ever force gymn on them.
 

emorymom

Active Member
Proud Parent
Oct 10, 2008
1,155
My daughter just turned 5. She has been taking rec classes since age 2.5, multiple times a week during the school year, plus multiple dance classes all last year. But no one really made her stretch until she started a developmental class a month ago. Now it finally appears that she is stretching. Up til then I believe she would place her body until she felt the slightest tug and then stop. And probably no one said anything to her until last week when her coach at the pre-team class said she needed to stretch better.
 

munchkin3

Active Member
Proud Parent
Jun 6, 2008
2,102
Country
USA
The Most inflexible kid in the world!!

Before my son started Gymnastics, he had to be casted on both legs due to calf muscle contraction! Talk about inflexible!!!
After 2 yrs of competitive gymnastics, he can do a full pancake, full staddle split, he just got all the way down on right and left slit...still has about 6 inches to go on pike, his biggest challenge....

Streching and discomfort are just part of it, besides, now that he is WAY more flexible, the pain is way less....

DONT FORCE HER.....my son was pushed to hard when he was 5 and he never trusted the coach again.....We had to switch gyms....
 

supercrunch

New Member
Sep 1, 2008
10
I agree that once they're ready, they will start to build their flexibility...and it can happen relatively quickly if they stretch well and regularly.

My daughter is 7, and just picked up gymnastics a couple months ago after being in ballet since age 2.5.
She has just reached the level at her dance school where they start to work on flexibility, and that combined with gymnastics has really boosted her flexibility. She has gone from horribly inflexible to a nearly full straddle split, about 6 inches off the ground on one side and just a tad worse on the other in about 3 months.

My 4 year old son, however, doesn't have a clue how to stretch (although he tries whenever his big sister does)...but he would happily do handstands and cartwheels all day long (oh...and his latest trick...launch himself off the couch from a headstand position to what really looks like he just came out of a handspring while yelling "safe landing" lol...yeah, he knows that one isn't allowed!).
I'm sure he will develop his flexibility in time. He has plenty of time to figure it all out.
 

TnTTaxi

Member
Jan 18, 2009
141
I am absolutely NOT flexible never in my life have I been even close to being able to do splits. But my dd's (6 & 4) can do all 3 splits, they just decided to work on it and have pushed to it. There is also a girl in my dd's L3 that has really worked for it. And did not have any flexibility in the beginning, she is almost there. Good Luck with it, just keep working on it.
 
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