NORMAN — Dear Savvy Senior, Can you offer some good stretching tips and resources for seniors? I’ve gotten so inflexible in recent years, I can hardly bend over to tie my shoes anymore.
— Stiff Senior
Of all possible exercises, stretching tends to be the most overlooked and neglected among seniors, yet nothing is more vital to keeping an aging body limber and injury free. Here’s what you should know along with some tip and resources to help you regain some flexibility.
As we age, our muscles naturally lose their elasticity if you’re not active, which can make common day-to-day activities like reaching down to tie your shoes or looking over your shoulder to back your car out of the driveway difficult.
But the good news is by incorporating some simple stretching exercises into your routine (at least three times a week), you can greatly improve your flexibility, as well as enhance your balance, posture and circulation, relieve pain and stress, and prevent injuries.
In addition, stretching is also important as a warm-up and cool-down for more vigorous activities, and leg stretching is an excellent way to prevent nighttime leg cramps, too.
Stretching basics: Stretching exercises should focus on the muscles in your calves, front and back thighs, hips, lower and upper back, chest, shoulders and neck. If you’ve had hip or back surgery, you should talk to your doctor before doing lower-back flexibility exercises.
If you don’t have any experience with stretching, there are books like “Stretching for Dummies” and “Stretching for 50+” that you can purchase at your local bookstore or amazon.com that provide instructions and illustrations of proper techniques.
There also are a number of DVDs and videos you can buy to guide you through a series of stretching exercises you can do at home. Collage Video (collagevideo.com, 800-819-7111) sells several at prices ranging between $10 and $20, as does iefit.com and amazon.com.