Stay limber and feel healthy with these simple stretches you can easily do at home.
Stretching, like flossing, is a healthy habit that we should build intentionally.
Stretching becomes more and more important as we age. Daily stretching helps to keep our muscles flexible and healthy, and we need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints.
Stretching is ideal for anyone who wants to prevent injury, stay strong, and enjoy a higher quality of life. Regular or daily stretching especially helps older adults to:
- Manage low back pain and arthritis
- Achieve better balance, which helps to avoid falls
- Improve posture
- Increase energy levels
8 simple and effective at-home stretches
If you’re a senior looking to stay limber, comfortable and flexible throughout your golden years, check out these simple at-home stretching exercises.
Tip: Everyone’s body performs a little bit differently. If you have any health concerns, talk to your doctor or physical therapist about the most appropriate way to stretch before you start a stretching routine.
Let’s jump right in!
First, never skip the warm-up
Before you stretch, make sure you warm up for 5 minutes with light exercises, such as walking in place or arm circles. This increases your blood flow and warms up your muscles and joints.
Now, let’s get your STRETCH on! You can do most of these stretches seated.
1. Neck Stretch
This stretch is ideal for relaxing tension in the sides of your neck and shoulders. To get started, sit tall in a chair and gently lean your head to one side, and then the other. Slowly raise your right arm up and over your head, placing the palm of your hand on the left side of your head. Then, gently pull your head to the right and hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat the steps on your other side.
2. Shoulders and Upper Back Stretch
Start by standing up straight with your arms at your sides. Next, bring your hands behind you, clasp your fingers together and slowly pull your shoulders back to feel the stretch. You can hold it here or if you want a deeper stretch, raise your clasped hands away from your back, take a deep breath in, and slowly arc backward. You should feel a gentle stretch, but stop if you feel pain. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds, and repeat.
3. Torso Stretch
Do this one standing or sitting. Start by raising your arms up in the air, clasping your hands together overhead. Then, turn your palms toward the ceiling. Gently lean to the right side to feel a stretch down your left side. Hold for 10 seconds. Then, repeat on the other side.
4. Thighs (Quadriceps) Stretch
Start by standing tall. Feel free to hold onto a countertop or wall for better balance. Bend one knee, bringing your foot up behind you towards your backside. Grasp your foot with your hand and keep the knee pointed toward the floor. You should feel the stretch through the front of your thigh. If you can’t quite reach your ankle, use an exercise band or towel around your foot, and hold onto both ends. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds. Slowly straighten up and repeat the steps on your opposite leg.
5. Calves Stretch
Begin by standing slightly farther than arm’s length away from a wall. While facing the wall, make sure your feet are shoulder-width distance apart. Slowly lean forward and place palms of your hands flat against the wall at shoulder height. Next, step forward with your right leg and bend your right knee. With both feet flat on the floor, bend your left knee slightly until you feel a stretch in your left calf muscle. If you’re not feeling the stretch, bend your right knee a little more until you the stretch in your left calf muscle. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds. Then, repeat on the other leg.
6. Ankle Circles
Start by sitting up tall on a chair or bench. With your left foot on the floor, extend your right leg out in front of you. Rotate or circle your right ankle 10 times in each direction. Lower your right foot to the floor. Repeat on your other leg.
7. Seated Hip Stretch
If you’ve had a hip replacement, check with your doctor before doing this stretch. Start by sitting tall in a chair. Cross your right leg over your left, letting the right ankle sit atop of your left knee. For a deeper stretch, take your right hand to gently press down on your right knee. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, then repeat on the other leg.
8. Hamstring and Low Back Stretch
With your back on the floor or bed, bend your right leg and slowly move it toward your chest. Make sure your shoulders are flat on the floor. Reach your arms around your right knee if you can. If this is challenging, try holding the back of your right thigh and pull it toward you. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds. You should feel a nice light stretch through your lower back, glutes and hamstring. Then, repeat on the other leg.
As you can see, stretching can help your body and joints move more freely, allowing you to enjoy full functional mobility and increased flexibility.
If you’re looking to improve your flexibility and your ability to get around, try to build a healthy habit of stretching into your everyday routine.
This article is for general information and should not be relied on as medical advice. Check with a medical professional for medical advice.