Easy Stretches for Seniors
Written by Josh Horsman
As we get older, a common fear is that we will begin to lose our mobility and, for many people, this might be true. Without regular exercise and a self-care routine for your body, age can take its toll. If you want to maintain maximum mobility and lead an active lifestyle in later life, stretching is key. A regular routine of stretches will keep your muscles primed and ready so that you are able to move, exercise and maintain balance. Here are 8 simple stretches to try at home:
Neck Stretch This stretch is an easy one to fit into your morning routine. It will loosen any tension in your neck and shoulders. This kind of tension can build up from sleeping in a bad position or from poor posture.
Start by sitting tall in a chair.
Lift your right arm up and over your head so that your right hand is on your left ear.
Now very gently pull your head to the right, just enough to feel the stretch in your neck.
Hold for 20-30 seconds
Now repeat for the left side.
Back Stretch The spine is key to mobility and so back stretches are essential components of any senior’s health regime. This one is quick, easy and will get your blood flowing.
Stand tall with your hands on your hips.
Slowly lean and bend backwards so that you are looking up towards the ceiling, until you can feel the stretch in your spine.
Hold for 3 - 5 seconds then return to your starting position
Repeat 10 times
Standing Side Reach This stretch is all about building flexibility in your trunk and shoulders, which is key to maintaining your ability to perform everyday tasks such as reaching high and low for objects in the home.
Stand in place with your feet shoulder-width apart and bend your knees.
Extend one arm out the side and reach up and out, shifting your weight to the leg on the same side as if reaching fo an object.
Continue reaching until you feel a stretch in your trunk.
Hold the position for five seconds
Now repeat with the other side.
Perform 10 repetitions for each side.
Overhead Stretch This stretch is a common inclusion in yoga routines and helps with matching breathing to movement as well as helping to keep your spine lengthened.
Stand in place with your legs shoulder-width apart.
Take a deep breath in and, at the same time, stretch your arms up towards the ceiling.
Exhale and bring your arms back to down to your sides.
Repeat 5 to 10 times
Shoulder Rolls This stretch focusses on your shoulders but this will, in turn, work your upper back, neck as well as shoulder muscles and keep your joints well-oiled.
Stand in place or sit up straight in a chair and stretch your arms out in front of you, bending the elbows slightly.
Gently roll your shoulders back so that your elbows in front of yo are making circles in the air.
Do this for 30 seconds to 1 minute at a time.
Hula Hoop This move will open the hips and improve your range of mobility for your lower body.
Stand in place with your feet together and your hands on your hips.
Imagine that you are ‘hula-hooping’ and move your hips in circles 5 to 10 times clockwise
Now repeat anti-clockwise for the same number of repetitions.
Be sure to keep your stomach tucked in and try not to move your shoulders.
Quad Pull This stretch works on your quadriceps, the key muscles in your thighs which are important for mobility in your legs.
Stand in front of a wall or table with your feet together and your arms by your sides
Put one hand on the table for balance and bring your opposite leg up behind you, balancing on one leg, until you can grab your raised leg with your free hand.
Pull your raised leg up towards your butt until you feel the stretch. Hold the position for 10 to 15 seconds.
Now repeat the stretch with your other leg.
Do two or three sets for each side.
Knee to chest This stretch also aids mobility through working the leg muscles and getting blood flowing.
Find a comfortable piece of floor and lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent.
Bring one knee up to your chest, using your hands to pull it towards you if you need to.
Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds, keeping your lower back pressed to the floor.
Lower your knee back to the starting position and repeat with the other knee.
Repeat 2 to 4 times for each side.
Ankle rolls The ankles are another key source of mobility and this exercise gently helps to keep them primed and enables you to maintain aa full range of movement.
Stand in place, balancing on one leg. Hold onto a chair or table, for balance, if you need to.
Raise your non-standing foot a few inches off the floor, then gently rotate your ankle clockwise ten times.
Now rotate clockwise, also for 10 times.
Switch legs and repeat.