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Why Stretching Is Important As We Age

group of older people stretching on the grass outside

As we get older, it's normal to feel like we're not as limber as we used to be. But just because it's normal doesn't mean it's any less fun. Though we can't go back in time or stop the aging process, there are some things we can do to help bring some of that flexibility back. One of the best ways we can do that is through stretching.

Stretching can help keep our muscles and joints strong and improve our range of motion so we can get back to doing the things we love without worrying so much about the pain or discomfort.

Other Benefits of Stretching

Stretching doesn't just help with your mobility and flexibility. It can help with a lot of other things too.

It can help increase blood flow

    When you stretch a muscle, the blood vessels around that muscle will widen and allow more blood to flow through that specific area. Continuous stretching can, over time, improve your circulation and even reduce muscle soreness.

    If you're concerned about high blood pressure, stretching can be a good way to help naturally lower your blood pressure.

    It can reduce your risk of falling

      Stretching your legs, hips, and lower back specifically can help give you more stability and balance to help prevent falls. Adults 65 and older are at a higher risk of falling so it's important to do what we can to help ourselves.

      It can help reduce back pain

        The older we get, the more likely we are to get hit with some form of back pain just because spinal changes are a natural part of aging. Regular physical activity like stretching can help reduce lower back pain in your body and even prevent it from returning.

        Make sure to incorporate stretches that target your abdominals and hamstrings to help ease tightness in your lower back.

        Outback Oil: Help relieve joint pain and discomfort (black and orange background with small image of older man stretching on right side of banner)

        Stretches to Try

        Standing Quadriceps Stretch

        This type of stretch focuses on exercising your legs, specifically your quadriceps.

        • Start by walking around a little bit before hand to help loosen up.
        • You'll want to use a chair or couch as support.
        • Start by holding onto the chair or couch with your left hand. Bend your right knee, and using your right hand, grab your leg by the ankle and gently pull your foot towards your lower back.
        • Hold this position for about 10 - 30 seconds, and gently bring your leg back down.
        • Then repeat with your left leg.
        Seated Knee to Chest Stretch

        This stretch helps exercises more than just your legs, it also works the muscles and joints in your hips, knees, and lower back.

        • Sit comfortably in a chair.
        • While seated, gently grab your right knee and slowly pull it towards your chest.
        • Once you feel a stretching sensation, hold this position for 10 - 30 seconds.
        • Gently guide your leg down, then repeat with your left leg.
        Shoulder Stretch

        This stretch focuses on the upper body and can help loosen up the muscles and joints in your shoulders and help alleviate discomfort.

        • Start by sitting or standing up straight.
        • Grab your right elbow with your left arm, and slowly pull your elbow and arm up towards and across your chest, making sure not to bend your elbow.
        • Continue to lift until you start to feel a stretching sensation.
        • Make sure to keep your elbow at or below your shoulders when stretching.
        • Hold this position for 10 - 30 seconds, then repeat with the opposite arm.

        Other Exercises to Try

        Some other exercises that are beneficial and go hand-in-hand with the above benefits include:

        • Pilates
        • Walking
        • Yoga
        • Tai Chi
        • Water Therapy

        **Talk with your doctor before starting any new exercise routine.

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