What are good stretching exercises for seniors?

Is aging taking a toll on your body? Do you constantly battle with stiff joints, aches, and pains? 

Stretching exercises is definitely what you need.

Stretching is an excellent way for you to relax as well as relieve tension in your muscles. The trick to getting the best of stretching exercises is good breathing and right posture. 

Considering the state of your fragile aging body, we share with your some of the good exercises for seniors.

Important things to consider when starting out

There should be no pain or serious fatigue when you do any form of stretching. You may feel some sort of discomfort which is expected to subside when tension is released, but there should be no serious pain. 

As you engage in stretching exercises, here are some basic guidelines as a senior that you need to put into consideration:

  • Start your exercise routine slowly. There are high chances that it has taken you a long time to get stiff and thus it will not take you a day to fix it.
  • Briefly warm your muscles before stretching by taking a walk.
  • Take a deep breath and slowly exhale as you stretch.
  • Only stretch until you feel the tension in your muscles, but not to the point of pain.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, unless advised otherwise by your doctor.
  • Do not hold your breathing during stretching. Relaxed breathing helps your muscles relax

When and how much stretching you should do

Stretching exercises for a senior should generally be done 2 to 3 days per week. During the sessions, each stretch should be performed 3 to 5 times with a 20 to 30 seconds hold. For each body region, try and do one or two stretches.

Remember to always warm-up before beginning your exercise program. Once you get the hang of it, you can increase your flexibility by increasing your sessions. Try 4 to 5 days per week.

How beneficial are stretching exercises to seniors

  • Stretching exercises reduce low back pain and arthritis. As a senior, regular stretching improves your flexibility, range of motion, and elasticity to relieve stiffness in your afflicted joints.
  • Stretching helps you improve poor posture. Due to aging, ligaments, and tendons in the chest and shoulders tend to tighten, resulting in poor posture. With a consistent stretching regime, your tight muscles are loosened giving you a greater range of motion which helps correct poor posture.
  • Stretching increases your blood flow and energy levels through increased circulation and nutrient flow in the body. Increased energy is important in maintaining independence and overall healthy aging.
  • Stretching reduces the risks of falling by improving your balance and stability.

Types of stretching exercises ideal for seniors

  • Hamstring stretch

The hamstring stretch exercises your hamstrings without causing any damage to your back. Begin by sitting on a sturdy chair and place your left foot upon the chair. As you slowly lean towards your foot, try to extend your left leg on the flat surface of your chair. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Put your left foot down and switch legs. Repeat the same steps with your right leg placed on the flat surface of the chair. Try and repeat this exercise three times per side.

  • Calf stretch

Calf stretch exercise helps you maintain the flexibility of your legs. This can be easily done using a wall. Stand with your hands on the wall at a split stance position-one leg forward and one leg back. Lean your body forward as you press your back heel towards the floor. Press until you feel a gentle stretch in your calf. Repeat on the other side.

  • Backstretch

As we age, our joint range motion is reduced in our spine and trunk. This stretch exercise helps you increase your ability to bend and reach low or high much easily. Stand with your feet and shoulders wide apart. Place your hands on your hips with palms against your bottom and inhale through your nose. Arch your spine backward, lift your ribs, and bring your shoulder blades together as you extend backward. Hold for 10 seconds. Breath normally during this 10 seconds hold. Repeat 3 times, exhaling during the backward movement phase.

  • Torso stretch

You can exercise the torso stretch routine while either sitting or standing. Clutch your hands straight up over your head, while your palms face the ceiling. Gently lower your hands to the right side until you feel a stretch down on your left side. Switch sides and repeat. 

  • Chest stretch

Chest stretching exercises help where your front shoulder muscles or chest feels tight or when your upper back feels rounded forward. There are two common chest stretching exercises that you can do.

From either a sitting or standing position, place your fingertips close to your ears, and gently try to get your elbows to touch the back of your head. Hold for 15 seconds and release.

Another option you can try is to stand facing a wall, with your hands on the wall at about waist height. Move your feet far away so that you feel your weight on the heels of your feet. Keeping your hips slightly behind your feet, stretch your arms out straight. Hold for 15 seconds and release.

  • Triceps stretch

With this exercise, bend your left elbow behind your head. Using your right hand, gently pull the left elbow further in until you feel a stretch in the back of your arm. Switch sides and repeat. 

Conclusion

It is important to remain nimble and flexible even as we age in order to stay independent for as long as possible. Flexibility increases our range of motion and thus helping us in performing our everyday tasks, such as bending down to wear shoes or simply reaching up to pick an apple from a garden tree.

Doing simple stretches regularly can definitely improve your elderly life health-wise as well as lowering the risks of injuries through unnecessary falls.

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