RUNNING : Hunter Greene, M.D.
We’ve all watched kids chasing squirrels in the backyard or sprinting to the playground. We know most kids are natural runners. If you’re thinking about getting your child into a more structured running program, here are some guidelines from the Road Runners Club of America to ensure he or she has fun and stays injury-free:
>> Make running fun “” First and foremost, running should be fun. Encourage children to participate and do their best.
>> Focus on participation and self-improvement “” In grade school, running should be about participation and developing a healthy lifestyle, not about being the fastest kid out there. Save competition for middle and high school aged students.
>> Consider individual differences “” Avoid a one-size-fits-all approach to a running program. Children mature both physically and emotionally at different rates, and this will factor into their ability to participate in running.
>> Limit training and competition before puberty “” Before puberty, children are rapidly growing and changing. Excessive training may interfere with normal growth and cause injury. For ages 9 and under, encourage regular exercise, which can include organized running for fun. Around the ages of 9-12, children may enjoy participation in a more organized running program that has a more systematic training program. Around the age of 12 for girls and 14 for boys, developmental changes will enable youth to slowly increase training distance and duration leading to participation in a systematic and competitive training environment.
Check out the rest of the article in our digital edition of SportStars Magazine: Kids on the Run
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