Stretching is an important activity that everyone should do, especially older adults. As you age, the chances of falling and becoming injured increase. When you stretch regularly, you improve your balance, reducing your chances of falling.
Stretching also helps relieve pain, especially pain in the lower back. It can also help soothe pain caused by arthritis!
Stretching can also help improve your posture and energize you. If you are also doing cardio and strength exercises, then stretching will keep you from getting injured and keep your muscles strong from your workouts.
Here are six stretching exercises for older adults that you can do at home.
Begin by facing a wall. Place your hands against the wall and bend one leg
Step back with the opposite leg about a foot’s distance behind. Keep your back leg straight and both feet flat on the floor
You should feel the stretch in the calf of the back leg. If not, you may need to step back further or move your upper body closer to the wall
Hold the stretch for at least 15 seconds, working your way up to 30 seconds
You can do this stretch sitting or lying down. If you want to lay down, be sure to use a thick pillow or book to support your neck
Begin looking straight up and then slowly turn your head to one side. Turn as far as is comfortable. Hold this position for at least 5 seconds. If you feel comfortable, you can hold it for longer, but no more than 60 seconds
Turn your head back to facing front and then do the same thing on the other side
Sit down with one leg straight in front of you with toes pointed up. The other leg can be bent with the foot flat on the floor
Straighten your back and lend forward from your hips towards the foot on the outstretched leg
Go as far as you can, reaching your hand towards your foot. Hold for at least 15 seconds
Reverse leg positions and repeat the stretch on the other leg
Sit in a chair with a straight back or stand with your back against a wall
Extend both arms to the side, with your palms facing forward
Push your chest forward until you feel a stretch in your chest
Hold for 15 – 60 seconds.
Sit in a chair, with your chest high and back straight. Extend one leg and point your toes away from you
Slowly point your toes back towards you. If this is too difficult you can place your heel on the floor
Repeat on the other leg, holding each position for 15 – 30 seconds at a time.
For this stretch, you’ll need a rolled-up towel or exercise band
Hold the towel in one hand. Raise that hand above your head and bend your elbow, so the towel is draped across your back
Use your other hand to grab the bottom of the towel. If you can, climb your lower hand up the towel so increase the stretch
Reverse positions. Hold each stretch for at least 15 seconds, working up to 30 seconds at a time.