As you age, your muscles start to lose elasticity and flexibility, leading to stiffness and injuries that take longer to heal than they used to. Stretching correctly can help keep your muscles loose and limber so you can avoid injury and stay active. The best stretches are the ones that stretch specific parts of your body without putting too much stress on your bones or joints. Stretches are easy to do and can help you regain the flexibility you may have lost over the years! This article will help you or your loved ones learn safe stretches.
The neck is also an area that can be susceptible to pain in aging family members. It’s essential to avoid craning it forward, especially if you are doing something like reading or working on a computer for long periods. Instead, try gently leaning your head to one side and holding it there for 30 seconds before switching sides. Repeat two or three times in total to get maximum results.
Can’t sleep on that side of your body anymore? Shoulder stretch is perfect for aging adults. Get down on one knee, with your arm extended above you. Pull your shoulder back, then grab your elbow with your opposite hand and gently pull it across your body. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds; do three repetitions on each side.
While seated, place your right hand behind your head and pull down on your left elbow with your left hand to open up and stretch out your chest. Hold for 15 seconds and release. Repeat three times before switching sides.
Upper Back Stretch
Sit on a chair with both feet firmly planted on the floor and let your elbows hang freely at your sides. Gently bend forward from that sitting position, allowing gravity to pull down on you as much as possible until you feel a good stretch in between your shoulder blades, arms, and upper back muscles. Hold for 15 seconds and release before repeating three more times.
You can perform an ankle stretch while sitting or standing and need a chair or wall for support. Place your foot against a chair, and slowly push your heel away from you until you feel a stretch in your ankle. Hold for 20 seconds and repeat on each side three times. If possible, extend to 2-3 minutes once you start feeling more comfortable with stretching. You should not feel any pain while performing stretches; if you do experience pain, stop immediately and consult a professional sports medicine trainer. The stretch should be done only when the Achilles tendon is warmed up, such as after walking for 5-10 minutes to get your blood flowing again.
The hamstring muscle helps you bend and straighten your leg and often suffers from shortening after years of active and passive life. To stretch your hamstrings: sit down on a chair or bench with a straight back and place one foot in front of you with both knees bent at 90 degrees. From here, push your hips forward until you feel a pull in your hamstrings (the backside of your thigh). Hold for 15 seconds and repeat three times per leg. Avoid bouncing when stretching; hold each position for about 15 seconds. Stretch with care!
Hamstring stretch is crucial for older adults who are more susceptible to injury than younger people due to less elasticity in their muscles and tendons.