Improve mobility and keep muscles healthy with these stretching exercises.
Stretching exercises are an excellent way to keep your body more mobile, flexible, and pain-free as you age. The benefits of stretching include increased range of motion, better performance during physical activity, improved posture and circulation, healing and protection from joint and muscle injury, and even mental health benefits like stress relief.
Regular stretching can improve our health in many ways, but it’s only part of a regular exercise routine. It’s a good idea to check in with your doctor first to make sure you’re cleared to try stretching, especially if you have a history of pain or injury.
If your doctor gives you the green light, here’s a collection of uncomplicated stretching exercises you can start incorporating into your routine!
- Overhead stretch
- Cross-body shoulder stretch
- Side stretch
- Arm & ankle circles
- Wall calf stretch
- Standing lunge
- Standing quad stretch
Unless specified as standing, most of these stretching exercises can also be done while sitting on a chair or the floor. Try to do each stretch for 20-30 seconds at a time, but stop if anything becomes painful.
Overhead stretching feels so natural that you might even do it automatically when you wake up! Just sit or stand and stretch your arms toward the ceiling with your fingers interlaced. This stretches your shoulders, chest, biceps, and triceps.
Cross-body shoulder stretch
Stretching your shoulders helps keep these essential joints mobile. One of the most popular shoulder stretches involves simply grasping one of your arms with the opposite hand on the bicep area and pulling it across your body. You’ll feel a stretch in your shoulders and upper back.
The side stretch is similar to the overhead stretch in that you start with your arms over your head with your fingers clasped. This stretching exercise adds in a side-to-side lean and is best done from a seated position. Leaning to one side, holding, then leaning to the other side helps stretch your abdominal muscles.
Arm & ankle circles
Simply rotating parts of your body in circles can be a fantastic simple stretching exercise! Reach your arms out to your sides and move them in circles, starting with a narrow circle and growing wider as you go. For ankle circles, sit in a chair and lift one foot off the ground at a time, circling your ankle in one direction and then the other before switching to the other foot.
Wall calf stretch
To stretch out your calves, find your nearest wall. Step towards it with one foot, bending that knee, and put your palms flat on the wall. Stretch out the other leg straight behind you, trying to keep the heel of that leg on the floor as you stretch each calf.
Lunges can double as an exercise and a stretch! They work your hamstrings, quads, calves, glutes, and even abs. To do a lunge, take a big step forward with one foot and lower yourself until your knee is at a right angle. The other leg will naturally dip down behind you, so your toes are touching the floor. Hold each lunge, then step forward to do it with the other leg. You can modify this stretch depending on your ability and any knee pain you might have.
Standing quad stretch
You can use a wall or a chair to balance for this one! Stand up straight with your feet close behind you and lift one leg behind you, grabbing the top of your foot with the same-side hand. Bring your foot towards your glutes until your knee is pointing toward the floor. You’ll feel the stretch in the front of your leg. You can also modify this stretch by using a towel to hold your ankle if you can’t reach your foot.
These easy stretching exercises will put you on the path to a more healthy, flexible life! Read more senior living and independence tips on the CapTel blog.