George Bernard Shaw once said that “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” There’s a lot of truth to that statement, and it has an application to your body. The older you get, if you’re like many people, the less likely you are to engage in physical activity. And your body deteriorates from lack of use.
The more your body stiffens, the less you want to stretch it. It’s a vicious circle, but it doesn’t have to be. You’re going to age, but with the right exercise regimen and regular stretches for seniors, your golden years still can be active and healthy. In just one office visit, the physical therapists at the Southeastern Spine Institute (SSI) can design a set of stretches for seniors like you. Try:
- Shoulder rolls
- Arm openers
- Triceps stretches
- Hand stretches
As you age, your shoulders get stiff if you don’t stretch them regularly. Shoulder rolling stretches for seniors maintain and even improve the range of motion in your shoulders, neck and upper arms. While limber shoulders are necessary for activities such as tennis or golf, you also need them for mundane daily activities like putting dishes away on an upper shelf.
Each day, roll your shoulders forward in 10 big circles. Then repeat the process with another 10 rolls in the opposite direction. If you feel any discomfort, stop immediately. You can try again the following day. If the pain returns, contact your doctor or physical therapist at SSI in Mount Pleasant, SC.
Effective at stretching your back, arms and shoulders, arm openers are excellent forms of stretching for seniors. Start by putting your hands behind your back and interlocking your fingers. Then pull your hands as far up from your tailbone as you can until you feel a comfortable stretch. Take five deep breaths to finish.
This movement stretches your arms for daily activities and sporting events. But the stretch also provides a much-needed stretch for your entire back. Additionally, your abdominal muscles and chest open up and stretch, which helps your breathing and posture.
The backs of your upper arms tend to lose flexibility over time. While this is natural, it’s not helpful or necessary. Regular stretching for seniors that includes the triceps muscles keeps your arms limber. This stretch also prepares you to do other exercises that reduce the wings of loose skin that older people tend to develop.
Stand with your feet spread waist-width apart, forcing your shoulders down and backward. Start by raising your right hand towards the ceiling while keeping your shoulders down. Bend your right elbow and bring your palm down to the back of your neck. Move your elbow backward and hold the stretch for 15 to 25 seconds. Do this two or three times, trying to increase the range of motion each time. Repeat the sequence with your left arm.
Stretching your hands keeps them flexible if you often draw, type or do other repetitive activities. Start by taking an athletic stance, with your feet spread at shoulder-width and your knees slightly bent. Extend your hands straight out in front of you, and interlock your fingers with the palms together. Then rotate your hands upward until your palms face out.
When performing any stretches, do them gently, no matter what your age. It’s also advisable to increase your circulation before stretching. Do some moderate aerobic activity since cold, stiff muscles are more prone to injury. For some professional guidance and a more personalized approach on stretches for seniors, make an appointment with a physical therapist at SSI.