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Stretching Exercises for Seniors

Ujwal Deshmukh Apr 23, 2019
Stretching exercises are necessary for people of all age groups to increase muscle flexibility and improve their overall fitness. Let us discuss a few stretching exercises for the elderly.
Aging brings about many changes in a person. The muscles tend to become weak, the body movements become slow, and the flexibility of the muscles decreases. Therefore, the elderly experience muscle pain very often.
Since one cannot really stop the process of aging, the intensity of all the aforementioned problems may be lowered to some extent. This may be achieved by performing stretching exercises. The seniors may improve their mobility power and maintain their muscle health to a great degree through these workouts.

Tips to Remember

  • Always consult a physical trainer, or probably a doctor before performing any stretching exercises to determine whether they are fit for your body type. If they are, then get the right ones prescribed.
  • Perform the exercises with slow and steady movements. Do not be in a hurry to finish things.
  • Perform some warm up activities such as, walking, running, or jogging before exercising. This may help release all the stress from your muscles and make them ready for stretching.
  • Do not over stretch since it may lead to muscle pain and fatigue.

Stretching Exercises

Lower Back Stretch

Back pain is the most common problem in almost all senior citizens. Following exercises may help strengthen the back muscles:

Exercise 1
  • Lie straight on your stomach on a plain surface. Keep your hands sideways.
  • Raise your head and your legs together.
  • Hold this position for 1-2 seconds, and then come back to the normal position. Repeat this 7-8 times.
Exercise 2
  • Stand straight with your hands stretched upwards.
  • Bend down, and try to touch the tip of your toes with the help of your hands.
  • Maintain the position for sometime, and then come back to the original position. Repeat this exercise 6-7 times.

Hip Stretch

The following exercise may help strengthen the hip muscles to improve the mobility of the body:

Exercise 1
  • Lie on your back on a flat floor.
  • Bend your right leg and hold your lower thigh in both your hands.
  • Try to pull the leg. See that you experience a sufficient stretch in your hips.
  • Remain in this position for sometime, and then go back to the original position. Repeat the same for the other leg.
Exercise 2
  • Sit erect with your right leg straightened towards the front. Fold your left leg in such a way that the foot of your left leg touches the lower thigh of your right leg.
  • Try to hold the ankle of your right leg with your hands.
  • Let the hip muscles stretch in this process.
  • Remain in this position for 2-3 seconds, and then come back to the original position. Repeat the same with the other leg.

Leg Stretch

Weakening of the leg muscles is a very common problem encountered by senior citizens. This results in loss of standing ability, trouble while walking, jogging, etc. Following are really good stretching exercises for the calf muscles, ankles, and the inner thighs:
Calf Stretch
  • Stand erect on a step with half of your foot on the step's surface and the remaining half unsupported.
  • Hold something with your hands for your overall body support.
  • Try to lift the tip of your toes and then come down.
  • Lower the unsupported part of your foot to feel a stretch in your calves. Repeat this exercise 10 times.
Ankle Stretch
  • Sit on the floor and keep your legs straight.
  • Wrap a resistance band or towel around your toes of both the legs.
  • Pull back a little until you feel a stretch at the ankle.
  • Maintain this pull for 10 seconds.
  • Repeat this exercise about 3 times.
Inner Thigh Stretch
  • Stand erect with your left foot bent in the front at about 2 ½-3 feet away from the body and the right leg bent behind.
  • Try to stretch in this position.
  • Maintain this pose for some time, and then come back to the original position.

Upper Body Stretch

The following stretches may help strengthen the upper body muscles:

Overhead Stretch
  • Stand straight with the fingers of your hands interlaced and palms facing towards the sky.
  • Try to pull yourself upwards.
  • Maintain this pull for about 5-6 seconds and then relax. Repeat this exercise about 6-7 times.
Front Stretch
  • Stand straight with the fingers of your hands interlaced and palms facing forwards.
  • Try to pull your upper body towards the front.
  • Maintain this pull for about 5-6 seconds and then relax. Repeat this exercise about 6-7 times.

Chest Stretch

Stretches performed on the chest muscles minimize the risk of chest pain. It also improves the blood circulation in that area since the muscles get relaxed. Following exercises help strengthen the chest muscles:
Exercise 1
  • Sit erect on an exercise ball with your fingers interlaced behind your back. Keep your arms straight.
  • Raise your arms as much as you can to feel a good stretch in your chest area. Do not overstretch your arms since it may result in muscle injury.
Exercise 2
  • Stand straight and place the forearm of your right hand on a door's side.
  • Try to move your upper body towards the left to experience a stretch in your chest muscles.

Arm Stretch

Following stretches may help strengthen the biceps, triceps, and the wrist muscles:

Bicep Stretches
  • Spread your arms to the sides. See that they are spread a little bit behind the body.
  • Rotate your hands down and back till the time they touch the walls behind you. You may experience a stretch in your biceps.
Triceps Stretches
  • Sit erect on a flat surface.
  • Bend your right hand behind your head, and then pull it with your left hand. Repeat with the other hand.
Wrist Stretches
  • Stand erect with both your hands stretched in the front.
  • Close your fists, and then rotate them in all directions.

Neck Stretch

Elderly people often experience neck aches and other related problems. Following neck stretching exercise may lower the intensity of such problems:
  • Stand straight and rotate your neck on all sides.
  • Also move it in the upward and downward motion.
Yoga and physical therapy also prove beneficial for many elderly people. These exercises not only improve the flexibility of your muscles, but also help in recover from muscle injury and re-build the muscle strength.
However, make sure that you consult a specialist before opting for these workouts. The aforementioned exercises, if performed regularly and with proper precaution, may help improve the quality of life of the elderly.
DisclaimerAlways consult a physician before starting any physical fitness program in order to reduce the risk of injury.