When you’re young you have plenty of agility, and you move easily, however, as you age, well that’s another story. Your muscles can become stiff, and you may find you’re not as flexible as you used to be. You may feel aches and pains after simple exercise, that you never felt before. To counteract this, it’s important to stay flexible so that your mobility is not impaired.
To maintain your flexibility and mobility, you need to keep active through physical activities and exercise. While aerobic and strength exercises are important, stretching is one of the best things you can do.
If you stretch every day, and at least twice a day would be better, for ten minutes each time, you will be amazed at your results. You can start off small, but then develop routines that will improve your mobility even more.
Stretching Exercises for Seniors
Stretching relaxes your muscles and lubricates your joints to relieve pain and stiffness. You need to focus on your neck and spine to reverse your forward head movement, and to improve posture and balance. Numerous neck and spine muscles are shortened or lengthened due to forward head posture. Plus, any muscle imbalance causes neck pain and back pain.
Neck stretches help improve your posture and the mobility of your neck and shoulders. You will notice the benefits from this stretch, especially when you’re driving. If your neck is more flexible, you will have a better range of vision as your neck will have better rotation.
Bring your chin towards your chest and then roll your head to the right. Hold the position for 15 seconds and then do the same to the left side. Continue doing this stretch at least ten times.
This stretch helps with the raising, lowering, and straightening of your arms. It improves the range of motion in your shoulders and strengthens your chest muscles, which helps correct your posture. It allows you to extend the function of your shoulder ligaments, tendons, and muscles. This increases your flexibility in your shoulder joints.
Sit with your back straight and your feet firmly on the floor. Put your hands behind your head and stretch your arms so that your shoulders roll up and back. As you do push your chest out and inhale deeply while stretching. Take three deep breaths before you release your clasp, and then continue repeating the stretch.
This exercise will strengthen your chest muscles and support good posture. If you slouch, it can cause neck and back pain. This is because you tend to stick out your chin as you hunch over. To start this stretch, extend both your arms to the sides, palms facing forward. Move your palms backward, chest out, and stretch until you feel the tension on your chest and arms.
The hip stretch increases your mobility and loosens your hip muscles for better flexibility. With your feet together on the floor, put your hands on your waist. In a clockwise direction, circle your hips five times as wide as possible. Don’t move your head and shoulders while you elongate your spine and keep your stomach in. Do another five circles counterclockwise.
The back stretch aligns your spine to reduce lower back pain, reduce tension on your shoulders and neck, and improve your posture. Start with your feet shoulder-width apart on the floor. Interweave your hands at chest level about 6 inches away from your chest, with your palms facing outward and your elbows pointing out.
Keep your lower body stationary and your head in line with your torso, while twisting your upper body from side to side, leading with your elbows. Try not to move your hips and keep your gaze forward. Stretch to a mild tension 10 times doing this alternately left to right. When your spine is in better alignment, you will reduce stiffness and soreness.
Hand and Finger Stretch
Hand and finger stretches make your joints strong and flexible. You can either stand or sit-down, whichever is comfortable for you. Stretch both arms forward with your palms facing outward. Pretend there’s a wall in front of you, then walk your hands up until they reach above your head.
Keeping your hands above your head, wiggle your fingers for 10 seconds and then walk your hands back down.
If you have medical conditions, such as arthritis or back pain, ask your doctor if there are specific stretching exercises you should, or should not be doing. They know your history, so they can make modifications if necessary.
Do a 5 to 10-minute warm-up before stretching. You may think your stretches are a warm-up, however, start small and then stretch further. Your warm-up may include walking or gentle overhead arm circles.
Practice belly breathing by slowly inhaling and exhaling while stretching. Every deep breath fills the body with oxygen and helps improve blood circulation, which relaxes your muscles. If you hold your breath, it causes your muscles to tighten and makes any stretching exercise more difficult.
Stretch until you feel a mild tension in your muscles. Hold it for 15 to 30 seconds and don’t overextend. If you feel any pain, it means you are putting too much pressure and strain into your routine, which may cause joint or muscle injury. Also, avoid bouncing, as this can damage your muscles or connective tissue.