As we age, our muscles lose their elasticity and even simple tasks – like bending over to tie your shoes, reaching a high shelf, or looking over your shoulder – become difficult. Stretching is easy to do and provides great benefits, but it is often overlooked or forgotten. If you want to keep your body limber, reduce your risk of injury, and decrease the difficulty of daily activities that rely on flexibility, complete some basic stretches at least three times a week. For help, explore the stretching exercises for seniors below.
Stretching Exercises for Seniors
Before we begin, let’s review a few important guidelines for stretching. First, stretch until your muscles feel tight and then hold for 10-20 seconds. Repeat this process a few times. Second, listen to your body. If you’re in pain, you’ve gone too far. Third, don’t bounce as you stretch, as this increases your risk of injury. Fourth, be patient and move slowly. It will take some time to regain your flexibility if you haven’t stretched in a while.
Are you ready to stretch? Try these basic stretching exercises:
- Neck Stretch: Sit with a straight back and your feet flat on the floor. Keeping your back against the chair, slowly turn your head to look over your shoulder. Hold for 10-30 seconds, return to your starting position, and then look over your other shoulder. Repeat several times.
- Calf Stretch: Stand behind a piece of furniture or wall, which you can lightly touch for balance. Stretch your right foot backward, and bend the left knee slightly. Push the right heel toward the ground (or flat on the ground if you have the flexibility). Hold for 15-30 seconds.
- Thigh Stretch: Lie on your side with your legs straight, and rest your head on your bottom arm. Bend your top knee, reach back with your top hand, and grasp your foot (if you can’t reach it, loop a towel or belt around your foot and hold the ends). Gently pull your leg and hold the position. Repeat 3-5 times. Roll over, and repeat on the other side with your other leg.
- Torso Stretch: Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart. Place your hands behind your head with your elbows pointing left and right. Bend at the waist toward the right side and then the left side. Repeat 10 times.
- Triceps Stretch: Throw a hand towel over your shoulder with your right hand, and grab the end with your left hand (behind your back). Pull the towel with your right hand, keeping your left arm relaxed as it is pulled upward. Hold for 30-60 seconds at the point of resistance. Repeat on the other side.
These stretches will help you get started, but feel free to incorporate freeform movement, stretching any muscles that feel tight and stiff. You can also work on your flexibility while engaging in exercise. Try yoga, chair yoga (in which the mat is replaced by a chair), tai chi, Pilates, or dancing. Some of these workouts, like yoga and tai chi, will also help you relax and relieve stress.
In addition to improving your flexibility, these stretching exercises for seniors will help you with your balance, posture, and circulation. They can even alleviate stress, reduce pain, and prevent future injuries. Remember to stretch before and after more vigorous workouts to loosen your muscles and prevent strain, and don’t push yourself too hard at first. The more you stretch, the easier these exercises will be. Good luck!
Are you looking for an assisted living community in Tennessee? If so, be sure to check out Hearthside Senior Living Place in Bartlett, Tennessee. We would be happy to schedule a tour for you so that you can explore the community, speak with the Community Director, meet some of the residents, and ask any questions you might have. For more information, please call 901-854-6590. We look forward to meeting you!