No matter what age, everyone wants to be flexible. As you age, problems such as joint pain and back pain arise. You find it difficult to reach high or pick up something that has fallen to the ground. Losing flexibility is a major issue that comes with age.
Aging is inevitable but keeping yourself flexible is easy. Stretching exercises for seniors are a great way to maintain or regain the flexibility you once had.
Why Do We Lose Flexibility As We Age?
Flexibility means having a full range of motion in the joints of your body. Sometimes due to certain factors, we feel hindrance to normal joint movements. The factors affecting joint movements could be osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or frozen shoulder.
When we get older, we tend to become less active with no outdoor exercises instead. This lack of physical activity can make joints stiff and reduce flexibility. In most cases, the loss of flexibility could be because the muscles and surrounding tissues become tighter.
Benefits Of Stretching Exercises For Seniors
Stretching exercises for seniors help better joint movement, correct posture, release muscle tension and sore muscles with no risk of injury. Stretching also has additional benefits like increased circulation, improved muscle control, and proper balance and coordination.
A study published in the Journal of Gerontology observed the results of a stretch program of 12 months for older adults and found that the participants had some positive changes in fitness, well-being, self-efficacy, and reduced pain.
Types Of Stretching Exercises For Seniors
Before moving into the stretching exercises for seniors, you must know the clear difference between the two types of stretches – static stretches and dynamic stretches.
In static stretching, you have to hold a stretch for 30 seconds or more. It is used for lengthening a particular muscle for a muscle group.
The Stretch has to be held steadily without any other type of movement like bouncing or pushing/pulling. It would be best to keep in mind that it is necessary to warm up before getting into static stretching exercises.
Dynamic stretching exercises for seniors are also designed to stretch a particular group of muscles, but the difference is that you stretch it more actively. Dynamic stretching involves copying real-world movements of the body while stretching your muscles along with it and getting your blood pumped up.
As discussed before, dynamic stretching for seniors is best for improving your range of motion. It focuses on stretching through regular and natural movements.
8 Most Beneficial Stretching Exercises For Seniors
The stretching exercises for seniors mentioned below include both dynamic and static stretching. For best results, these exercises need to be done every day or as often as possible. Make sure you include 5 to 10 minutes of warm-up before moving to the stretches.
1. Neck Side Stretch
This is one of the best and most important stretching exercises for seniors. It is not complicated as there is no chance of injury as a result of neck side stretches.
This exercise is very effective in loosening tension in the top of your neck and shoulders that might have built up due to sleeping in the wrong position or having less pillow cushion at night.
Follow the steps below to perform neck side stretches:
a. Start by sitting straight up on a chair. Gently lean your head to one side and then to the other and continue for a short warm-up.
b. Lift your right arm and place your right palm facing down over your left ear.
c. Slowly, pull your head to the right and hold for a good 20 to 30 seconds.
d. Repeat on the other side.
2. Shoulder And Upper Back Stretch
Due to a stiff back, you might have a hard time standing up. This is generally caused due to sitting in a position where your shoulders and upper back bend forward. It might get hard to stand up straight and develop into a hunched-back position as time goes by.
This variant of shoulder stretching exercises for seniors shall help lose these muscles and improve spinal flexibility in the upper body, which shall help you stand straight again and release the tension in your shoulder blades.
Follow the steps below to perform shoulder and upper back stretches:
a. Start by standing tall with arms on your side. Slowly, reach behind using both your hands and pull your shoulder back to clasp your fingers together.
b. When you feel the Stretch, hold there. If you can go further, push your hands away from your lower back and slowly lean backward along with it.
c. Return to standing tall and repeat the steps to perform the Stretch again.
3. Triceps Stretch
This is one of the easiest arm stretching exercises for seniors that can be done either standing or sitting. This stretches your arms and releases tension.
Follow the steps below to perform triceps stretches:
a. Sit tall in a chair (or stand tall) and lift the right arm over your head with a bend at the elbow.
b. Now, use your left hand to hold your elbow and gently pull in the opposite direction. You will feel the Stretch at the back of your arm.
c. Hold for at least 20 seconds and then switch arms to continue to the other side.
4. Back Stretch
Backstretch is one of the most common exercises among stretching exercises for seniors. It is perfect for gaining mobility in the spine and also helps with rounded shoulders. It is also a little dynamic and will get your heart pumping.
Follow the steps below to perform back stretches:
a. Start by standing tall with hands on your hips.
b. Slowly lean backward and look towards the ceiling. Hold for 2 to 3 seconds and return to a standing position.
c. Repeat at least ten times
5. Standing Quadriceps Stretch
This is a good variant of stretching exercises for seniors and helps in lengthening the quadriceps. The quadriceps are muscles that sit at the front of your thigh. They can become tight due to sitting or hunching forward, leading to pain and adding up to bad posture.
Follow the steps below to perform quadriceps stretches:
a. Start by standing tall and hold on to a chair or a countertop for balance.
b. Bend your knees slowly and grab your feet with your hand. You might be already feeling a stretch through the front of your thigh.
c. Hold the Stretch for 20 to 30 seconds and then repeat on the other leg.
d. If you have trouble reaching your foot with your hand, use a yoga band until you are flexible enough.
6. Ankle Circles
This is one of the easiest stretching exercises for seniors. If you have stiff or weak ankles, it’s bad news for your balance. By gaining flexibility at your ankles, you can be safe from falls and stumbles.
Follow the steps below to perform ankle circles:
a. Sit tall on a chair at the end of your bed.
b. Extend your right leg straight forward and keep the left leg on the floor.
c. Rotate your ankles both clockwise and anticlockwise 10 to 20 times. Then repeat on the other leg.
7. Seated Hip Stretch
Having tight hips can make day-to-day activities such as getting out of the car or bathtub difficult. This is one of the most effective hip stretching exercises for seniors. It allows an increased range of motion and increases flexibility.
Follow the steps below to perform the seated hip stretch:
a. Start by sitting tall on a chair.
b. Cross your right leg over your left and let your right ankle sit on the left knee.
c. Relax the right side of the hip and let gravity pull you towards the floor. You will feel the Stretch on your hips.
d. To stretch out further, slowly press down on your right leg and knee.
e. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds before switching on the other leg.
8. Hamstring And Lower Back Stretch
This is one of the gentler stretching exercises for seniors. This targets the lower back and hamstrings, which may have become tight and painful due to sitting or bad posture.
Follow the steps below to perform the hamstring and lower back stretch:
a. Lay on the floor or your bed with your face upwards. Bend one of your legs up towards your chest.
b. Keep your shoulders flat on the floor and wrap your arms around your knee.
c. You will feel the Stretch at your lower back, glutes, and hamstring.
d. Hold the position for 30 secs then repeat on the opposite leg.
These are some stretching exercises for seniors that could help increase flexibility and ease movement. Following a stretching routine of 10 minutes per day can get your blood flowing and give you significant positive results in a short period. It can be a great way to be able to enjoy the flexibility you possessed in your youth.
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