Flexibility and mobility are an important part of healthy living, but it becomes of particular importance when you hit 60.
Being able to move freely in a full range of motion is key to staying independent and injury-free.
For older adults, the loss of mobility has a profound effect on their health and may hinder activities.
If joints and muscles aren’t properly maintained, basic movements may cause pain or injury.
Being flexible, mobile, and steady on your feet is key to aging well and maintaining an active, independent life.
This independence afforded by good mobility helps boost your confidence and well-being as you get older.
The good news is you can work on mobility at any age and start where you are.
All it takes is a few minutes a day to go through some stretching exercises that’ll lengthen and strengthen your muscles and train movements.
These exercises are effective in keeping your muscles healthy and preventing muscle loss related to aging.
Spend time with these 5 stretches daily to see both your mobility and flexibility increase.
5 Exercises to Improve Mobility and Range of Motion
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1. Side Bend Stretch
As you age, your muscles and joints weaken and affect your flexibility, mobility, and strength.
Your muscles and ligaments become less elastic, which leads to a less mobile body.
No matter where your fitness level is, it’s essential to stretch and practice flexibility exercises for older adults.
Stretching keeps your body flexible, and strong and helps you maintain the full range of motion.
One of the stretching exercises that keeps your back and spinal stabilizing muscles healthy and loose is this side bend.
It not only helps you practice the range of motion with the side bend, but it also improves your upper-body mobility.
How to perform the side bend exercise:
- Stand straight with your back flat and feet shoulder-width apart.
- Bring your arms overhead and keep them straight.
- Keeping your lower body grounded, gently lean your torso and the rest of the upper body to the right. Hold the position for 10 seconds.
- Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side. Aim to complete 2-3 sets.
If you are not able to perform this stretch standing, you may perform this sitting on a chair.
2. Pigeon Pose
Long hours of sitting and being inactive can lead to muscle tightness in the hip flexors and hamstrings.
The stiffness in the lower body can also lead to constant aches and injuries.
It can certainly lead to hip inflexibility and limited mobility.
Luckily, certain yoga practices and poses can help reverse the muscle stiffness and recover lost range of motion.
The one in particular that works for your hip flexors and hamstrings are the pigeon pose. In yoga, it’s referred to as the half pigeon pose.
This pose is a variation of a hip rotator stretch and encourages hip flexibility.
How to perform the pigeon pose:
- Start in a tabletop position with both knees and hands on the floor.
- Bring one ankle forward and position it in front of the other knee. Slowly slide the back knee behind you as far as you can.
- Take some deep breaths and reach your arms in front of you and feel the stretch in your legs.
- Continue to bring your chest lower towards the front knee and hold this position for 5 deep breaths.
- Repeat 2-3 more times and switch sides.
3. Floor Hamstring Stretch
One thing that hinders your mobility and range of motion is tight, stiff muscles in your legs. This lying hamstring stretch is a great way to loosen not just the hamstrings but also your pelvis and hips.
These muscles are used in everyday moves like walking and climbing up the stairs. It’s essential to strengthen and lengthen these muscles to keep them healthy and flexible.
Flexible hamstrings can help you prevent injury and improve your mobility and range of motion.
You don’t need to stand with this stretch, making it more comfortable for older adults.
How to do the floor hamstring stretch:
- Lie down face up on a mat with your hands on your side and legs straight.
- Lift the left leg up over your body and hold the leg with your hands just behind the knee.
- Gently pull the leg toward your chest until you feel the stretch in your hamstring.
If you struggle with lower back pain, this glute bridge stretching exercise can help. Strengthening your back muscles as well as other spinal stabilizing muscles helps keep your back healthy.
It also helps strengthen the back, glutes, and hip muscles, preventing the back from weakening.
This will also help improve balance and stability along with mobility.
How to do the glute bridge:
- Lie down on your back with your knees bent and position your feet about hip-width apart and planted on the ground. Your feet should be about 10 inches from your glutes.
- Lift your pelvis up with your back still on the mat. Pause at the top where your shoulders and knees are in one line. Keep your back flat and core and glutes engaged.
- Return to the starting position and repeat 7-8 times.
5. Back Stretch
Your back and neck are essential to your overall mobility.
As you get older, you lose muscle mass. This can weaken your legs and glutes, and affect the mobility of your back.
Limited mobility in your back, spine, and neck can often mean you experience more backaches and are prone to injury. One way to prevent this early on is to maintain your back muscles.
Regularly stretching your back and spinal muscles are the key to a healthy back. It’ll help improve your upper body mobility and range of motion.
It supports movements like twisting, rotating, and bending.
How to perform the backstretch:
- Lie on your stomach on a yoga mat with your feet together.
- Place your hands in front of you close to your chest.
- Gently press up and pull your shoulder blades back. Feel the stretch in your back, spinal, and neck muscles.