Exercise is important for everyone, but it can be particularly important for seniors who may not move around as easily as they once did. Arthritis and other health conditions can reduce mobility and increase the risk of injury. Doing the proper warm-up exercises helps to prepare joints and muscles for the upcoming workout. Check with your doctor before beginning any exercise routine to ensure that it is safe for you to do.
Types of Stretching
Though stretching may seem a simple concept, it actually comes in different types. Static stretching simply lengthens the muscle and is generally held for 10 to 30 seconds. This type of stretching should always be done carefully, with exercises extended gradually over a period of time to ensure that you do not injure muscles and tendons. Dynamic or oscillatory motions use movement to stretch muscles in different directions. These exercises are done after you have warmed up with static stretches. It is important to gradually build up the number and range of dynamic stretches. Static stretching is generally considered the safer choice if your ability to do the exercises is in question.
Shoulder and Upper Back Stretch
The shoulder and upper-back stretch increases strength and mobility in the upper part of the body. Incorporate your breathing into the exercise routine by breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth. Place your palms together in front of your chest. Exhale as you bring your arms upward. Straighten the arms holding the palms forward. Tighten your back muscles as you lower your arms to the starting position. As your upper body strengthens, add light, 1-pound weights to your arms to provide greater resistance.
This exercise helps to reduce tension in neck muscles and provide greater flexibility of movement. Keeping your neck muscles flexible can be particularly important when driving, when you need to turn your head quickly to check lane traffic or obstructions behind you. Alternate turning your head gently to the right and to the left, holding the turn for a few seconds before switching. You can also combine this with neck stretches by lifting your shoulder to your ear on each side, alternating one side then the other. If you feel any dizziness doing these exercise, stop. Check with your physician to determine if these exercises should be avoided.
You can do the overreach stretch sitting if it is more comfortable for you. In this exercise, sit in a chair and interlock your fingers on your lap. Inhale and raise your interlocked arms upward over your head and reach as far as you can comfortably, exhaling as you reach. Return to the starting position. Do this exercise 10 times for increased arm and shoulder flexibility.
Standing Quadricep Stretch
The standing quadriceps stretch helps to strengthen the muscles in the front of your legs, allowing you to stand and walk for longer periods of time. Hold onto a chair with your left hand and bend your right ankle. Grasp the ankle if you can. If you cannot, simply bend the knee and use your muscles to pull your foot toward your bottom. As you become more flexible you will be able to grasp the foot at a later time. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds. Then, release the position and repeat with the other leg.
As people age, the back muscles can become stiff and inflexible. Gradually stretching the muscles can help you to regain better posture and greater flexibility. Stand with your feet apart about the distance of your shoulders. Place your hands on your hips. Arch your spine backwards gently. Hold the position for 10 seconds. Release the position and repeat 3 times.
Hip Rotation Stretch
Hips can become very stiff as you age. This problem can increase if you sit for long periods of time while driving or working. To keep your hip joint flexible, sit comfortably in a chair. Cross one knee over the other and press down on the bottom knee until you feel the stretch in your hip. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds. Release and change to the other side.
Knee To Chest Stretch
For the knee to chest stretch, you must first find a piece of furniture such as a table or chair that will hold your weight as you balance. It must be of the right height for you to lean comfortably on without bending over or reaching upward.
These exercises will help seniors to strengthen muscle, increase flexibility and provide greater endurance. Always remember to buildup your muscles gradually and stop at any sign of pain.