People slow down as they age –that’s a fact.
Like many other daily tasks, standing up from a chair, taking a bath and getting in and out of bed become increasingly difficult in old age. These limitations are often caused by a gradual decline in your muscle strength and flexibility.
Flexibility is the ability to lengthen and stretch a joint and thereby move it through its range of motion. Therefore, a good stretching routine can be an important part of your daily regimen, especially if you wish to maintain flexibility.
Make sure to do stretches for your arms, legs, hips, back and neck. These stretches help maintain flexibility as age slows you down, keep you at a healthy weight for your age and limber.
Benefits of stretching for seniors
Stretching your body improves your posture and reduces the risk of injury, especially in old age. In addition, stretching releases muscle tension and soreness, improves blood circulation, muscle control, balance, and coordination. Stretching also allows for greater movement in joints during the later years. As a result, seniors experience self-sufficiency and remain functioning members of the community. Lastly, they experience significantly lesser pain as they age compared to non-exercising individuals.
Stretching guidelines for seniors
You must stretch your major muscles for more than 10 minutes, twice a week. Also, perform flexibility exercises along with the resistance or cardio training exercise. Follow these guidelines when stretching;
- While stretching, try to concentrate on your body and its movements. In particular, feel how your limbs flex and how the joints open and close.
- Slowly exhale as you stretch.
- Hold every stretch for up to 30 seconds, giving your muscles plenty of time to relax.
- Do not bounce when stretching.
- Stretch to the point your muscles release their tension, not to the point of causing pain.
- Warm-up before stretching.
List of Stretches for Seniors
Following are the stretches that you should include in your exercising routine;
Neck stretch exercise
Neck stretches are necessary to maintain posture and perform necessary activities, like driving.
- Bring your chin slowly towards your chest and then up.
- Turn your head side to side.
- Hold every position for up to 15 seconds.
Shoulder and upper arm stretch exercise
Shoulder mobility helps you get dressed, get items off a shelf and more.
- Hold a towel in one hand over your head.
- Let it drape down behind your head and back.
- Stretch your shoulders and arms while holding that towel.
- Grab the other end of the towel with the other hand.
- Gently pull down until you feel the stretch.
Chest stretch exercise
Stretching chest muscles helps with breathing and maintaining posture.
- Extend both your arms to the side.
- Let the palms face forward.
- Reach your arms back until you stretch your chest.
- Use a wall if you have a hard time holding your arms up.
- Do not overstretch.
Ankle stretch exercise
Ankle stretches allow essential functions, like walking, driving, using stairs.
- Stretch the ankles sitting in a chair.
- Slowly move your foot up-down and side-to-side.
- Hold every position for up to 30 seconds.
- Repeat with both feet.
Hamstring stretch exercise
Hamstring exercise allows elders to walk and use stairs.
- Lie on your back.
- Extend a leg perpendicular to your body’s position.
- Grasp the back of your thigh.
- Slowly, pull the leg towards you.
- Keep your other leg and hips firmly on the ground.
- Repeat with the other leg.
Quadriceps stretch exercise
Quadriceps stretching is vital for walking and standing.
- Lie on your side.
- Bend your knee to bring the foot behind you until you feel the stretch.
- Use a towel if your hand cannot reach down enough.
Hip stretch exercises
Elders frequently experience hip pain. These stretches allow them to stand and walk.
- Lie down on your back.
- Bring one knee to the side and stretch your hips.
- Rest your foot against the opposite leg.
- Gently push down on the bent knee to feel the stretch.
- Hold for a moment and release.
Lower back stretch exercise
Lower back stretches help elders remain mobile.
- Lie down on your back.
- Bend the knees and feet together.
- Keep your feet flat on the floor.
- Lower your legs to one side.
- Twist your torso until you can feel the stretch.
- Hold and repeat on the opposite side.
A number of studies have demonstrated that “stretching” has many benefits for older adults, including improving flexibility and muscle strength. Stretching is convenient, can be done anywhere and requires minimal equipment.