You don’t have to be a marathon runner to benefit from a daily stretching routine. Fitness trainer Joel Harper says as we age we are more likely to have tight muscles, which can pull on our bones and other skeletal structures, making us feel stiff, out of whack and more.
Stretches for older adults provides a number of benefits, including:
- An increase in blood flow
- An increase in range of motion, which can help prevent injury
- Reduced stress
- Improved mood
How often and what should you stretch? Harper recommends stretching daily and when you’re feeling tight, sore or stiff. Here are five stretches older adults can try:
1. Arm Opener
This stretches your arms, shoulders and chest.
How to do it: Stand with your feet comfortably apart and interlace your hands behind your back. Let your hands fall down near your tailbone with the knuckles pointing down.
Look straight ahead and maintain soft arms. Then gradually lift your arms as far away from your tailbone as you can.
2. Chin Drop
This stretch helps with neck pain and stretches your neck and shoulders.
How to do it: Put your arms in front of you with your elbows touching and your palms touching. Make sure your palms are facing toward your face. Then put your palms on the top of your head, and gently drop your chin. You should feel this stretch in your neck and shoulders.
3. Hula Hoop
This stretch increases mobility in the hips.
How to do it: Stand with your feet together and place your hands on your hips. Then—just as if you’re hula-hooping—circle your hips five times clockwise, then five times counterclockwise. Try to resist moving your shoulders and keep your stomach pulled in.
4. Yo Yo
This stretch helps align your spine and improve your posture.
How to do it: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Angle your toes slightly out. Interlace your hands with the palms facing out and bring them to your chest. Hold this position and twist from side to side. Be sure to keep your lower body stationary and keep your head in line with your torso.
5. Quad Pull
This stretches your thighs and improves mobility.
How to do it: Stand with your feet together. Put your arms at your sides. Use a wall or table for support and put your right hand on it. Balance on your right leg. Bring your left leg back until you can grab it with your left hand. Make sure you maintain a straight line from your head to your tailbone with your chest lifted.
Stretching should not produce any pain; stop if you experience any pain with a stretch. Stretching can improve flexibility and mobility and reduce the likelihood of injury. If you have any questions about beginning a stretching routine, talk with your doctor.