As people age, simple activities such as getting in and out of bed, rising from a chair can become increasingly difficult. An easy way for seniors to combat stiff joints and limited range of motion in the body is to incorporate daily stretching, which has been shown to improve flexibility and balance, reduce pain and stress, and reduce the risk of falling or injury. Here are five stretching exercises for seniors to help them stay healthy.
- Overhead Side Stretch:
Everyday tasks such as grabbing objects from a high shelf can be challenging, and overhead stretching can help senior citizens increase their reach through improved range of motion in the shoulders and upper body. To perform an overhead stretch, sit or stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and raise your arms overhead, with your hands clasped and palms facing the ceiling. Keeping your torso long and abs engaged, gently lean to the left until you feel a stretch on the right side of your torso and hold for 30 seconds, return to center, then repeat on the right side.
- Neck Stretch:
Improving range of motion in the neck and upper back is essential for proper posture, neck pain relief, safe driving, and other daily movements. To stretch the neck, seniors should do head circles daily. Simply turn your head to look over one shoulder, slowly drop the chip and circle your head and lift it to look over the other shoulder. Stretch the other side of the neck by lowering the chin again and circling the head back to the original side. Repeat this neck stretch by continuing to drop your chin to your chest and turn your head from side to side. To deepen the stretch, gently place your palm on top of your head as it moves from side to side.
- Hamstring Stretch:
Tight hamstrings can contribute to lower back pain and difficulty walking. By stretching the hamstrings, older adults can increase their ability to bend forward and reach their feet and generally improve flexibility in the lower back and legs. To perform a standing hamstring stretch, place your left heel on a chair or bench with your leg straight and toes pointing up. Keeping your back straight, gently lean forward from your hips until you feel a slight stretch in your left hamstring. Place your left foot back on the ground and repeat on the right side.
- Shoulder Rolls:
A flexible range of motion in the shoulders is very important for seniors to maintain independence for activities such as dressing or reaching across the dining table. Stretching their shoulders will not only improve their range of motion, but also increase the flexibility of their ribs, chest and lungs. To do standing or seated rolls, bend your arms at the elbows and roll your shoulders back while making slow elbow circles in the air. Then make circles with your elbows in the opposite direction to stretch your shoulders forward.
- Ankle Circles:
Maintaining good ankle flexibility will help alleviate ankle stiffness that contributes to poor balance, ankle swelling, and generally improve ankle and foot range of motion. To do ankle circles, sit in a chair and lift one leg off the ground. Slowly circle your ankle in one direction a few times and then circle it in the opposite direction a few times. Place your foot back on the floor and repeat with the other leg.
Have you tried these exercises before? Which one did you find the most helpful? Feel free to comment in the comments section down below!