Avista Albuquerque Senior Living
Aging takes a toll on the body, but stretching is a fantastic way to reduce aches and pains, loosen up muscles and relax your joints.
Is Stretching Good for Seniors?
Maintaining mobility at an older age can be pretty challenging for many seniors. Our bodies undergo many changes, making staying active and mobile more difficult.
However, proper care and exercise can strengthen our muscles and joints to help manage changes and keep our bodies strong and limber. The goal is to be more active and maintain a strong, healthy lifestyle. It’s vital to work on our bodies continually. We all know the saying, ‘If you don’t use it, you lose it.’
How Does Aging Impact Flexibility?
Senior’s muscles, joints, and tendons all change in a way that impacts flexibility. Limited flexibility affects your mobility, strength, and more.
The connective tissues become less elastic and rigid as we age, reducing mobility. Joint mobility is reduced as we age due to a general deterioration in cartilage, ligaments, tendons, and a reduction in the synovial fluid within the joint. The less mobile joints are, the less flexible and more tightened senior muscles might be.
The good news is that you can slow down these changes dramatically. Physically active seniors can achieve a significantly greater range of motion than sedentary individuals. When seniors stretch, they activate the fluids within the joints, which helps reduce damage caused by friction.
No matter your activity level, stretching for seniors is essential to your routine. As with any exercise, make sure to listen to your body. It is much more sensitive to even the slow movements than your younger glory days. The goal is not to “feel the burn” but to gently bring your muscles and mobility back to life.
When To Use Stretching Exercises for Seniors
The recommended stretching time is different for seniors who exercise regularly and those who do not get as much exercise.
For active seniors who exercise – the best time to stretch is at the end of the activity while the muscles are still warm and loose. Before your exercise, we recommend a five-minute walk or jog.
For less mobile seniors – you can stretch any time of the day. As with active seniors, take a five-minute walk around before starting to stretch to ensure your muscles are loose and warm. Please note that the stretches themselves are not the warm-up
Remember to pay special attention to your breathing throughout the stretching routine. It is easy to forget and not realize you are holding your breath.
When you breathe correctly, your heart pumps oxygenated blood to the muscles. After delivering the oxygen and the nutrients, your blood removes lactic acid buildup from your muscles and other waste products. Not breathing correctly while stretching, you may feel a burning sensation in your muscles, and the more likely you may injure yourself.
As we age, staying limber becomes more and more critical. Flexibility naturally increases our range of motion. With flexibility, we can efficiently complete day-to-day tasks like bending down to tie shoes or reaching to get something from a high shelf.
Daily stretching helps improve your flexibility and range of motion, decreases the amount of energy you need to complete a movement, and, best of all, helps prevent injury.
Tips for Effective Stretching
Add stretching for flexibility into your workout routine by following these tips:
- Warm-up – A warm-up before stretching can be done quickly with a quick walk or with some light weights to help you avoid injury.
- Don’t rush – Ease yourself slowly into each stretch. You should only feel a mild pulling in your muscles — it should never be painful. If you have stabbing pain, it is a sign that you’re stretching too far.
If you’re new to stretching, take it easy. Remember to be patient, as it will take some time for those muscles to loosen and open up.
- Relax and breathe. Do not hold your breath. Breathe with each movement, carefully pushing yourself further with each exhale.
- Care for your spine. Be aware of your spine’s position. Keep your joints soft, never locked.
- No bouncing. Do not bounce into a stretch to try to reach farther. Use steady slow movements instead of jerking movements to ease the stretch. Quicker actions can cause muscles to tighten instead of loosening!
- Hold that stretch. Give yourself at least 30 seconds in each stretching position to allow enough time for the muscle to relax and elongate. Breathe, repeat, and stretch slightly farther the next time.
Come Visit Albuquerque Senior Living Today!
If you are starting a workout routine, stretching is essential to help alleviate the soreness that may follow exercising. Before beginning any new physical activity, talk to your doctor first to learn the best plan for your health needs. Visit our memory care, assisted living community in Albuquerque, NM.