Getting older means you lose some of the flexibility you once had.
It is more important than ever to keep your joints and muscles moving with a good mobility routine.
Stretching and mobility exercises will help you maintain flexibility and reduce the risk of injury.
It’s something people seldom think about because moving is something we do without thinking.
However, it requires more work now than it used to, and increasing your flexibility makes it easier.
Keep these tips in mind for easier mobility and increased range of motion.
5 Best Stretching and Mobility Exercises for Seniors
1. Seated shoulder stretch
Seated shoulder stretch is a classic stretch for seniors that can help improve muscle flexibility in the upper body and open up everything from the rotator cuff to your chest.
By focusing on the core to stay tall, this exercise can also work the thoracic spine.
While this is often performed standing, if lack of mobility is the issue for some seniors, it can be one of their chair exercises where you perform this seated.
How to do it:
- Place your weight evenly on your sit bones while you sit as tall as possible. Keeping your shoulders back and back straight, clasp your hands behind your back.
- Your fingers should be interlaced, and you should be still holding the posture. Straighten out your arms and keep them in this position for 30 seconds.
- Your shoulder blades will come together, and you should feel a release in your chest, back, and up and down your arms.
- The key points are to take deep breaths as you perform each rep. Inhale as you open the chest up and lace the fingers and exhale as you return to the starting position.
2. Standing quadriceps stretch
This simple stretch is one of the best stretches for seniors!
It is a great stretch for anyone dealing with tight hips or wanting to work on their balance; the lower body greatly benefits!
You may want to place your palm on a wall or stool if you cannot stand on one foot for long periods of time.
How to do it:
- Start by placing your feet shoulder-width apart. While standing straight with good posture, shift all of your weight onto your left leg.
- Bend your elbow and grab your right foot with your right hand, pressing your palm into the top of the foot. You should feel a release throughout the front of your thigh.
- The closer you pull your foot towards your tailbone, the more you should feel it.
- If this sensation is too much, decrease the intensity. Make sure that the entire front of your body stays in a straight line.
- To take this to the next level, try focusing on tilting your hips forward while keeping your knee bent.
- Stay in this position for at least 30 seconds before switching to the other side and grabbing your left foot with your left hand.
Note: Another idea for maintaining balance is to keep your core muscles tight and stare at a point on the floor in front of you throughout the entirety of the stretch.
3. Kneeling forward lunge
This lunge position is great for your hip flexors and hip mobility.
Older adults and seniors can sometimes experience a lot of stiffness and lack of flexibility in this area as time goes on, making this exercise a necessity among other physical therapy exercises in your hip mobility routine.
How to do it:
- To get started, come down onto your knees on a mat.
- Extend your right leg straight out and then place your foot on the ground so that your knee is at a 90-degree angle. This foot position helps prevent knee damage!
- Place your right hand on your right knee and slowly lean forward into a low lunge. Your front hip will shift forward as your back knee extends.
- This movement should lead to a stretch in your hips and quads. It will be tempting to bounce, but remember that you need to be relaxed and still in this position.
- Stay here for at least 30 seconds before transitioning to the opposite side with your left foot.
Note: Go easy with this exercise and make sure not to overextend if you experience muscle stiffness or you have stiff joints or knee problems!
If your bottom leg, especially your knee, is uncomfortable, you can also try placing a folded towel or pillow beneath it as a cushion.
4. Double-knee torso rotation
With lower back pain being produced by common practices such as poor posture, this exercise is considered to be both a classic stretch and an intense stretch that is very beneficial.
How to do it:
- Start by lying on your back on the ground.
- Place both your feet hip-width apart on the floor and make sure your knees are pressed against each other, and that each heel is touching the other.
- Lay your arms out by your sides so that they form a T with your entire body. The harder you press your palms into the floor, the greater your stability will be.
- Squeeze glutes, brace abs, and slowly bring your legs, led by your left knee, to the side. Your legs will be at a 45-degree angle, with your right leg on top. You should be twisting at your torso and feel a stretch in your lower back and glutes.
- Bring your legs as close to the ground as you can without letting your thoracic spine or hips come off the ground. Once your hips are off the ground, the stretch is minimalized and not as effective.
- For even more of a challenge, try to keep your tailbone and right shoulder touching your mat as well!
- After staying here for at least 30 seconds, do it on the opposite side to complete this amazing side stretch!
5. Downward dog
Possibly the most famous yoga pose, downward dog is a very simple and effective movement for seniors.
When you perform this exercise, the main areas of focus are your hamstrings, hips, back, and calves.
How to do it:
- For the starting position, get on your hands and knees with a flat back.
- Keeping your hand’s shoulder distance apart, push through your feet until your body is forming an upside-down V.
- Keep your upper body as straight as possible, your elbows facing out, and have a slight bend in your knees.
- While holding this position steady, some key points to focus on are your breathing and keeping the weight in your hands evenly spread with your thumbs pointing towards each other.
- If you start to feel a strain in your hamstrings, take turns bending each knee to loosen up the muscles.
- It is ideal to have both heels touching the ground, but it is certainly not required.
- This is a great exercise if you have limited mobility and tight hips.
- Shifting from the downward dog position to a plank and back for multiple reps will result in increased hip mobility and strengthened abs.
NOTE: To add some variety, feel free to do neck stretches and ankle circles while in the position!
Final Take on Stretching and Mobility Exercises
Whether you and your friends are gym-goers or spend your time at home doing cardio workouts, your training method needs to be followed by an important stretching routine.
Daily activities and overall physical activity consume a lot of time daily.
If you do not have the proper muscle flexibility and stretch tolerance to perform tasks such as picking up a bucket of water, life can be a bit tougher for you.
And that’s where mobility exercises come in.
Mobility is one area of physical health that tends to get neglected in younger years.
Later in life, this can result in joint pain, tight hips, poor posture, and more.
Simply performing the five exercises listed above can help prevent unfavorable health conditions from arriving in the future and keep you feeling young and limber in the present.
It only takes ten to twenty minutes a few times a week to increase your overall health and longevity.
Now is your chance to start taking control!
You may also like:
- Over 60? Here Are 5+ Reasons You Should Do Strength Training
- 10 Core Exercises You Should Do If You’re Over 60, According to Experts
- Over 60? 10 Best Resistance Band Workouts You Can Do At Home
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- Haley, Jimmy. “The Importance of Flexibility and Mobility.” PennState, https://sites.psu.edu/kinescfw/health-education/exercise-articles/the-importance-of-flexibility-and-mobility/. Accesses 16 July 2021.
- “Stretching: Focus on Flexibility.” Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/stretching/art-20047931. Accessed 16 July 2021.
- “Stretching: The New Mobility Protection.” Harvard Health Publishing, https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/stretching-the-new-mobility-protection. Accessed 16 July 2021.
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