Stretching for Seniors

Senior Fitness Tip
October 2, 2022 at 12:24 p.m.
Stretching is a great way to improve the range of motion in your joints
Stretching is a great way to improve the range of motion in your joints Mark Bryant

Stretching is a great way to improve the range of motion in your joints. As seniors age they typically have less range of motion, so stretching becomes especially important. Stretching is also good for your circulation and aids in relaxation.

Before you begin to stretch, make sure you warm up first for ten to fifteen minutes. When the body is warm, it will make the stretching exercises more effective and much easier to do. Warm up by doing joint mobility exercises, such as rotating your head, shoulders, wrists, hips and ankles, followed by squats (halfway down or less, with the aid of a chair if needed). Then march in place.

Now you’re ready to stretch. Each stretch should be held for at least 30 seconds. Stretching should be gentle and comfortable Stretching should not hurt; never force a movement that causes pain. Breathe deeply and stretch slowly. Stretching can be accomplished while sitting in a chair if getting up and down from the floor is difficult.

Examples of stretching include: with arms held above your head, gently stretch down side to side; stretch your shoulders by placing your hand on the upper opposite arm and gently pull it against your body then switch; while laying down, lift your knee toward your chest, grasp the back of your thigh and gently pull; on your hands and knees gently round up your back toward the ceiling while tucking your head and tailbone, then arch your back while lifting your head.

These are just a few examples. Consider finding a stretching class for seniors to learn how to perform them correctly.

Mark Bryant has been a personal trainer for 25 years and recently earned a certification as a Corrective Exercise Specialist. He is the Enhance Fitness Coordinator at Southeast Seattle Senior Center, with over 15 years of experience working with seniors. Despite having had a total hip replacement, Mark has won 11 Powerlifting World Championships.

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