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“Let Kids Be Kids”

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Destroying Health

My son has now started taking karate classes.  For his age (four years old), the classes involve lots of games and fun ways to incorporate karate moves into a thirty minute time span.  Most of the stuff initially seemed to have little fitness value, until I thought about some of the drills they are doing, i.e., army crawls, frog jumps, bear walks.  These drills mirror a lot of the drills I do with my athletes which helps reinforce and build basic movement patterns.  These drills help build stability in the joints, flexibility in the muscles and a coordinated effort of tendons, nerves and muscles. 

These basic movement patterns become the precursor for such activities as standing, walking and running.  If these patterns are not properly established by mastering these preceding drills, problems arise in the neuromuscular system, for example, a muscle does not work when it is supposed to when running. When I looked at the children performing these drills at my son’s karate class, I can see that there were several that had great difficulty in performing these simple drills.  Dan Pfaff, arguably the greatest and smartest track and field coach ever, offers an explanation for this lack of function:

It is my belief that general activities that enhance posture,

joint strength, muscle and joint coordination and all aspect of mobility

are in short supply with today’s youth.  A highly sedentary lifestyle

exhibited by today’s society has precluded the acquisition of

these general qualities once found in abundance several generations ago.

(“Alternative Methods for Developing Strength, Power and Mobility”, p.2)

I wholeheartedly agree with this assessment.  Our sedentary society has trickled down from the adult to the children with devastating results. When basic movement patterns should be developed by crawling and  jumping, they are being delayed or blunted by sitting while watching television or playing video games.  This leads to a lack of function when it comes to doing higher levels of activity such as walking and running and a higher incidence of injury.

If you look at things in this perspective, you will understand the importance of recess in school and general outdoor play for children.


Health and happiness!

May 8, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 1 Comment