As we age, certain daily activities can become increasingly difficult. Lack of flexibility and a decline in muscle strength can create limitations for those who don’t stretch regularly. A daily stretching program allows for greater movement in the joints, helps improve posture, increases circulation, and improves balance and coordination. It also releases muscle tension and soreness and reduces the risk of injury. Here are 5 body stretches that can benefit older adults:
1. For ankle stiffness: Sit in a chair and slowly move your foot up and down and side to side. Hold each position for 30 seconds, then switch feet.
2. For tight hamstrings: Lie on your back and extend one leg toward the ceiling. Put your hand on the back of your thigh and slowly pull the leg toward your chest, keeping the other leg and hip on the ground. Don’t pull on the knee when stretching.
3. For tension in the hips: Lie on your back, bend one knee, and bring it out to the side. Rest the foot of that leg against the side of the opposite knee and gently push down on the bent knee until it stretches lightly.
4. For tight shoulders: Stand with feet hip-width apart, and reach your right arm across your body, parallel with the ground. Draw your right arm close with your left hand on the upper right bicep. Switch arms and repeat.
5. Overhead side stretch: Stand tall with feet hip-width apart and raise arms overhead. Interlace fingers, and gently lean to the left, holding for 20-30 seconds. Return to center and repeat on the other side.
Remember to take a deep breath and then slowly exhale as you stretch. Don’t bounce while stretching, and don’t stretch to the point of feeling pain. Before stretching, warm up for 5-10 minutes by walking or using a stationary bike. Consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise routine.