It’s a myth that the aging process unequivocally equates to reduced mobility and flexibility. Although it’s correct that health conditions including osteoarthritis impact many older adults, it is equally valid that there are practical strategies that may be taken to establish maximum strength and stamina through your later years.
One of the recommended approaches is to incorporate daily stretches to increase flexibility and improve mobility. Stretching leads to improved posture and movement of joints, together with diminished muscle pain and tension. It can also help lessen the risk of falls and other accidental injuries, and improves circulation, balance, coordination and muscle control.
Always remember to check with your loved one’s medical professional prior to beginning any new workout program, including stretching. Along with his or her consent, the following are wonderful stretches for older adults:
- Slowly bring down the chin towards the chest area, and turn the head to one side for a count of 15; then repeat with the opposite side.
- Holding a towel in one hand, raise the arm vertically and hang the towel behind the back; then grab the bottom end of the towel with the other hand and stretch downward, holding for a count of 30.
- Lift both arms straight out to your sides, with palms facing forward; slowly reach the arms straight back until a stretching sensation is felt, and hold for a count of 30.
- From a seated position, lift one foot up and move slowly from one side to the other. Repeat with the other foot.
- While lying on your back, raise one leg, grab onto the back of the thigh, and gently pull it towards you while the other leg and hip stay on the floor. Take care not to pull on the knee. Repeat using the other leg.
- Lie on one side and move the top leg so your foot is behind you. Reach for the foot and draw it towards the body until a stretching sensation is felt. Hold for a count of 30 and repeat using the other leg.
- While lying on your back, bend both legs and place feet together and flat on the floor. With knees together, slowly and gradually bring down both legs to one side, moving the torso until a stretching sensation is felt. Hold for a count of 30 and repeat on the other side.
Always keep the following in mind when executing these stretching exercises:
- Inhale deeply and exhale slowly throughout the stretch.
- Use slow, measured movements.
- Try not to stretch to the point of feeling pain.
- Warm the muscles up just before stretching with a few minutes of physical movement, such as walking.
For many more strategies to help seniors increase flexibility and strength, call the leaders in dementia care in Barrington, IL at Inspired Home Care. We are always on hand to give motivation and support, to participate with seniors in exercise programs, and also to provide transportation and accompaniment to the senior center or fitness center for exercise classes. Reach out to us at 847-787-7572 and make the initial step towards a healthier life for a senior loved one!