As people age, it can become increasingly difficult to do things like get up from a chair or get into bed. This is due to a decline in flexibility and muscle strength. A good stretching program is important to increase and maintain flexibility. Stretching will improve posture and the movement in joints. It can also help reduce stress and reduce the risk of injury.
Why Should You Stretch?
Seniors should try to stretch major muscle groups for at least 10 minutes, at least two days a week. It’s best if stretching is on days where resistance or cardiovascular training exercises are done, but they can be done at any time. You should warm up before stretching, even if it is just a five-minute walk. While stretching, it’s important to take a deep breath and then slowly exhale as you stretch. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds in order to give the muscle ample time to get the benefit. It’s important not to bounce while stretching. This can increase the risk of injury. You should only extend the stretch until there is tension. You shouldn’t be in pain while you stretch.
It’s important to maintain flexibility in the neck for posture and activities like driving. In order to stretch the neck, bring your chin toward your chest and slowly turn your head side to side. Then hold the position for 15 seconds.
Shoulder mobility is important, especially for activities such as getting an item off a shelf or getting dressed. In order to stretch your shoulders and upper arms, hold a towel in one hand over your head and then let it fall down behind the head. Then grab the towel with the other hand and pull down and stop when you feel the stretch.
Poor posture can lead to muscles in the chest becoming tight. The right stretching helps with this. Extend both arms to your side with your palms of your hands facing forward. Reach with your hands until you feel the stretch in the front of the arms and your chest. If you aren’t able to hold your arms up, you can use a wall for assistance. To do this, put your hand on the wall and step forward until you feel a stretch. Then switch sides. You don’t want to overstretch, so as soon as you feel the stretch you should stop to prevent any injuries.
Poor balance can cause ankle stiffness. In order to maintain ankle flexibility, it’s important to stretch so you can maintain daily activities, such as walking. Sit in a chair and move your foot up and down and from side to side. Hold the position for 30 seconds and then repeat on the other foot.
If you have tight hamstrings, they can contribute to pain in your lower back and you can have trouble walking. To stretch hamstrings, start the stretch by lying on your back and place one leg perpendicular to the body in an extended position. Grab around the thigh and then slowly pull the leg toward you while you keep your hip and other leg on the ground. Be sure not to pull on your knee when you are stretching hamstrings.
Quadriceps are important muscles for standing and walking, so they need to be stretched. Lie on your side and bend your knee by bringing your foot behind you. Pull the foot toward the body until you feel the stretch. You can use a towel or a belt in order to reach your foot if you can’t. You can also do this stretch while in a standing position.
Tension in the hips can be uncomfortable. Lie on your back and bring one knee to the side of the body. Rest the foot against the opposite leg and push down on the knee until you feel the stretch.
Lie on your back with your feet together and knees bent. While keeping your knees together and feet flat on the floor, lower the legs to one side to twist your torso until you feel the stretch. Hold and then switch to the other side.
Be sure to consult a doctor or care facility before beginning any stretching and don’t hold your breath while you are stretching.