Good Posture and Stretching Help Seniors Tremendously!
Remember how your mom always told you to sit up straight? Good posture is so important especially for older people since chest and hip muscles may become tighter and tend to pull you forward. Daily stretching is essential not only for good posture but for more flexibility and greater joint functioning.
As people age, connective tissue becomes less elastic so daily stretching is crucial to helping the range of motion needed to live the life you want. Small stretches are a good start for warming up the body and work your way up to longer stretching increments and even more advanced techniques if you’re ready for it. As always, it’s important to consult with your doctor especially if you’ve had an injury or any sort of chronic conditions.
Benefits of Stretching
Let’s first talk about more of the benefits of stretching. For one, stretching requires no equipment. You may need a sturdy chair to sit and stretch. Stretching also requires minimal space and can be done anywhere. Stretching and even light yoga can help with balance, range of motion and help you sleep better. It’s also great for improving range of motion and can help you advance to more expert moves if your body allows for it.
Stretching is also good mentally and physically as it helps with cardiovascular health. It can aid in keeping a clear mind and helping you relax as you focus on breathing simultaneously with stretching. There are an array of stretches you can do and find. A good place to start is with your doctor or senior center. Senior centers or home health places may have qualified professionals to offer tips and tricks for healthy stretches. The YMCA also has programs like Silver Sneakers for senior citizens to participate in but check with any gym in your area. Many gyms and senior centers within each county have recreational programs.
When using the stretches, be versatile and use how it’s best for you. Start with one to two a day and work your way up as you become more flexible and stronger. Make sure you have water to stay hydrated and a chair if you need to sit down.
While you stretch, remember to breathe deeply and go slowly especially if you’re just starting out. If you ever feel like you’re forcing yourself or if there is pain, stop immediately and check with your doctor for modifications. It’s always key to start small and slow and work your way to a more flexible you.
Check out these Simple Moves to begin your Stretching Routine:
1. Overhead side stretch. Stand with your feet hip width apart and raise your arms overhead. You may want to interlace your fingers if you like. Stretch your stomach long and gently lean to the left for 10-30 seconds. Repeat on other side. Modify by sitting in a chair and keep your hips, knees and toes forward.
2. Triceps stretch. Stand or sit in a chair and raise your arms over your head. Bend your right arm so it’s behind your head. Put your left hand above your right elbow and gently pull your right arm in. Hold to 10-30 seconds and repeat on other side. Modify by sitting forward in a chair and aim for back of head opposed to base of your neck.
3. Cat-cow stretch. Get on your hands and knees if able to and round your back like a cat to the ceiling. Make sure you tuck your chin in towards your body. Then reverse the movement and arch your back like a cow lifting your hips up. Alternate between cat and cow movements for 10-30 seconds. Modify by sitting in a chair or even standing and alternating between rounding back and arching it.
These are just a few movements to get you started and remember to check with your physicians before beginning any exercises.