Aging is a natural part of life that takes a toll on the body. Engaging in various forms of exercise can keep the body active and mobile, but stretching is of equal importance in regards to mobility. Stretching is crucial for anyone who wants to move with ease, which gets more difficult to do in old age. As you ascend the ladder of life, though, there are certain stretches to practice regularly if you want to maintain mobility.
Stretching is a great tool to maintain healthy muscles and joints. It may also delay the onset of health conditions, including diabetes and arthritis. Some studies even found that stretching can improve mental health. For seniors, stretching can play a critical role balance improvement, which may reduce the risk of falling. Although stretching will not prevent the natural changes in tendons, bones, and mobility, it may make movements easier and less painful. Continue reading to learn what these stretches are.
Standing Calf Stretch
In order to properly execute this stretch, stand with your hands on the wall for support with the feet shoulder-width apart. Step your left leg back to establish a split stance and press your left heel into the floor. Lean forward until you feel a stretch in your left calf. Hold this position for ten breaths and then repeat on the other side.
Standing Quadricep Stretch
In order to maintain mobility as a senior it’s important to keep the quadriceps limber. Before you begin, get loose by walking around the room for a couple minutes. Grab a sturdy chair and stand behind it, using the back of it as support. You will be balancing on one leg for this exercise, so please make sure the chair is stable. Hold on to the chair with your left hand, bend your right knee,\ and reach back with your right hand to grab your right ankle. Gently pull your foot towards your bottom. Hold this position for 10-30 seconds, lower your leg, and then repeat on the other leg.
Seated Lat Stretch
Stretching the lower back can help reduce tension and discomfort, but you shouldn’t neglect the lats, which are the biggest muscles in the back. Sit in a chair and plant your feet flat on the ground in front of you. Place a stability or yoga ball in front of you and lean forward, keeping the back as flat as possible. Straighten your arms across the ball and allow your head to drop between your hands. If you don’t have a stability ball, you can sit on the chair and place your hands on the couch. Hold the stretch for about 20 seconds and then return to the starting position.
Overhead Side Stretch
You can remain in the chair from the previous stretch, but sit up straight. Extend your right arm overhead and hold the side of the chair with your left hand. Keep the torso long as you lean to the left until you feel a stretch in the oblique area. Hold this stretch for 10-30 seconds and then return back to the starting position. Repeat on the other side.
Warning: if you’ve had a hip replacement, it may be beneficial to check with your doctor before engaging in this stretch. You can sit on a bench or in a chair with another chair across from you. Extend your right leg out to place it on the chair in front fo you, keeping the toes facing up. Keep your left foot planted on the floor. While engaging your abs and keeping your back straight, slowly lean forward until you feel a stretch in your hamstring. Do not round your back, as that is not the point of the stretch. Hold this stretch for 10-30 seconds and then slowly return to the starting position. Repeat on the other leg.
This stretch aims to open up the shoulders, which can alleviate pain that you experience within the shoulder joint. Stand or sit straight up and plant your feet on the floor hip-distance apart. With your left hand, grab the outside of your right forearm and bring it across your chest until you feel a stretch on the outside of your right shoulder. Keep your right arm just below shoulder height during the stretch. Hold this position for 10-30 seconds and then repeat on the other arm.