When our bodies start to age, we begin to lose flexibility due to loss of water in our tissues and spine and increased stiffness in our joints. Stretching and regular exercise is important in order to maintain a full range of motion. It can also reduce stress and make you look and feel better overall, and it's often the best way to slow or even reverse some of these changes in our bodies.
Consider some of the following stretches to help improve your range of motion. Make sure to okay any new stretches or exercise regimes with your health care provider before you get started.
The side neck stretch is the perfect morning stretch because it is simple and helps reduce any tension from poor sleeping patterns. Sit or stand tall and gently tilt your head to one side and then the next to warm up the muscles. Lift your right arm high over your head and then gently place your palm on the left side of your head. Pull your head gently to the right just until you feel the stretch in your neck and hold for 10 to 20 seconds. Repeat with the other side.
Stand tall with your hands on your hips. Gently arch your back, look up to the ceiling and hold for about three seconds. Return to a normal standing position. Repeat this stretch about 10 times. This exercise increases mobility in your spine and can even help correct rounded shoulders.
Tight quadriceps can lead to back pain and poor posture. To help correct this, stand tall holding on to the back of a chair or counter top. Slowly bend your right knee and grasp your foot with your right hand. Hold this stretch for around 30 seconds and repeat on the other leg. If you are initially having a hard time reaching your foot, try using a yoga strap or band underneath the ankle.
Weak ankles cause balance issues and make you more susceptible to falls and stumbles. Sit comfortably in a chair and extend one leg out in front of you. Keep the other foot on the floor. Rotate your ankle 10 to 20 times clockwise and then 10 to 20 times counter clockwise. Lower your leg and repeat with the opposite leg.
The cat-cow pose is a yoga post that increases mobility and flexibility in the spine. Get down on all fours and make sure your hands are directly beneath your shoulders. Arch your spine and lift your head and chest towards the ceiling. Hold the position for 10 to 15 seconds. Round the back and repeat.
Stretching prevents the muscles in the body from getting sore and stiff, which can often lead to injury, mobility issues and chronic pain. At Bethesda Gardens in Phoenix, AZ, we offer a variety of exercise programs for our residents to stay healthy and happy.