Did you know that we are moving into an era when our aging population is growing (110MM seniors in the U.S) and the better news is that being older does not mean you have to be physically limited! Anyone can move and stretch their body every single day and as a matter of fact, I recommend it!
The focus as we age of strengthening your core, getting better balance, and creating an awareness of posture are key to better senior living. But, did you know that movement and flexibility are also the key to health as we age?
We must consider the body as a whole during movement and muscles must keep moving so they can remain pliable and adaptable, if not people get tightness and then feel pain. I’ve treated thousands of clients who were referred to me for “mysterious pain” and 9 times out of 10 their pain stems from tightness somewhere in the body.
For example, lower back pain can come from tightness in the hips and/or from tight hamstrings. Mid back pain can come from neck or shoulder tightness. So, this is why it is imperative to think of the body as one whole unit where everything moves together with integrity and unity, to keep moving properly and most of all live a relatively pain free life!!
Some of the benefits of stretching…
1. Stretching reduces low back and arthritis pain
The causes of low back pain in older adults is commonly a result of osteoarthritis and spinal stenosis. While both osteoarthritis and stenosis are a natural part of aging and can’t be directly avoided, the resulting pain can be managed by stretching exercises. Regular stretching benefits seniors by improving flexibility, range of motion and elasticity to relieve stiffness in effected joints.
2. Stretching reduces the risk of falling
The risk of falling is a major concern for adults age 65 and older and research has shown that regular bouts of stretching are critical to balance and stability that helps reduce the risk of falling. Also, improving flexibility of the hamstrings, quadriceps, lower back and hip joints are important in the prevention of falling.
3. Stretching helps to improve poor posture
As we age our bodies water content decreases resulting in reduced elasticity and flexibility. Improving flexibility is simple with a consistent stretching regimen which will help loosen tight ligaments, tendons and muscles to give you a greater range of motion.
4.Stretching increases blood flow and energy levels
Stretching will lengthen your muscles, and increase circulation flow and nutrient flow through the body. Increased blood flow increases energy levels which is important in maintaining overall healthy aging.
So whatever you do, just keep moving and don’t EVER stop!
Stretches that defy aging…
- Laying down bring one knee to chest while keeping the other leg straight and resting on the ground – HOLD
- Note-If you feel back pain when keeping leg straight on the ground bend at the knee
- Then bring the other knee into the chest – HOLD
- Then bring both knees into chest – HOLD
- Sit up tall on sits bones (bones underneath your bottom) – HOLD
- Note-If the hamstrings are tight place a pillow under your bottom to assist in sitting taller
- Legs extended straight out in front of you while sitting up tall – HOLD
- Stay sitting tall and flex feet (toes towards knees)
- Hinge forward from hips toward knees keeping back straight – HOLD
- Note-We are not looking for nose to knees in this position!
- Keep this flat back hinged position then flex feet a bit more – HOLD
Child’s pose in 3 directions (to address middle and lower back)
- Sit on knees with gluten toward heels
- Keep hips center
- Reach arms only to the right side of the body – HOLD
- Make sure hips stay center to resist the stretch
- Bring arms back to center – HOLD
- Reach arms to the left side of the body – HOLD
Frog pose with arms over head
- Lay on back with legs straight – HOLD
- Bend legs towards center and bring sole of the feet together so knees are open
- Don’t worry if your knees can’t open all the way to the ground
- Gently bring arms over head while keeping legs the same position – HOLD