Stretching Exercises for Seniors

As we grow old we tend to slow down. The muscle strength and flexibility decreases with advancing age and simple tasks like getting up from the bed or standing up after sitting in chair for a long time become more and more difficult. The muscles and tendons are very flexible and it is important to retain their flexibility and their ability to stretch and move the joints. There are many stretching exercises that can help to maintain and improve the muscle strength and flexibility.

Stretching Exercises for Seniors

It is extremely important to stay active in advanced age. To keep your back, arms, legs and neck in good shape try some of these stretching exercises. 

1.      Calf Stretches

What It Does: Helps to strengthen the calf muscles.

How to Perform

Stand behind a chair and hold it for balance. Extend the left leg backwards, as far as you can while keeping the foot on the ground and the knee straight. You can slightly bend your right leg. Now press on the ground with your heel and hold for a few seconds, then get back to resting position. Do it with the other leg.

2.      Side-to-Side Stretch

What It Does: Helps in back ache and keeps the muscles of back and abdomen in good shape.

How To Perform

Sit comfortably in a chair with your feet on the ground and around shoulder width apart. Put both hands behind your head and keep your elbows outwards. Now slowly bend your waist and bring your right elbow towards the ground, you will feel the stretch on your left side. Repeat on the left side as well and do ten repeats on each side.

3.      Knee-to-Chest Stretch

knee to chest stretch

What It Does: This is one of the most effective stretching exercises for seniors to loosen up the quadriceps and lower back muscles.   

How to Perform

Lie straight on the floor and keep your arms by your side. Now slowly pull the right leg towards your chest. Flex your knee and move it as closer to your chest as you comfortably can. Hold for a few seconds and resume the resting position. Repeat with the left leg and do five repeats on both sides.

4.      Hip Flexor Stretch

What It Does: When hip flexors get tight they can result in backache, this exercise helps to ease the tension in these muscles.

How to Perform

Put your left knee on the floor and bend your right leg keeping the right foot flat on the floor. Put your left hand on your left hip and keep your chest straight. Push the left hip forwards, if you feel unsteady you can hold on to a piece of furniture. Repeat on the right side as well.

5.      Neck Flexion

What It Does: Neck muscles stretching exercises for seniors are very effective to relieve the tension in neck and can improve the stiffness.

How to Perform

If you have any disc problems or pain in neck, it is better to discuss with your physiotherapist before doing this exercise. To do it, stand tall or sit with your back straight in a chair. Put one hand on your chin and gently push it backwards. Place the other hand behind your head and put pressure in forward direction, hold for 30-60 seconds and then relax. This is a gentle stretch but it's very effective to strengthen neck muscles.

6.      Doorway Stretch

doorway stretch

What It Does: It stretches the shoulder and chest muscles.

How to Perform

Stand in a suitable doorway and place your arms up on both sides of it. Now take a step and stretch your body forwards as far as you can without any pain. Hold for a few seconds.

7.      Hamstring Stretch

hamstring stretch

What It Does: This is an excellent way to stretch the hamstrings without causing any damage to the back muscles.

How to Perform

Put a small chair or stool in front of you and place one foot on it. Keep the leg straight and lean forwards. Hold for a few seconds and repeat with the other foot.

8.      Arm Opener

arm opener stretch

What It Does: It stretches your shoulders, arms and chest muscles.

How to Perform

Stand comfortably with your feet apart, move your arms backwards and interlock your fingers behind your back. Now move the arms as far back as you can without being uncomfortable. Hold for some time and get back to the resting position. Repeat a few times.

9.      Chin Drop

chin drop stretch

What It Does: It is an excellent way to stretch your neck and shoulder muscles.

How to Perform

Sit in a chair and hold your head in both hands. Keep your little fingers together and gently pull your head down and bring your chin as close to your neck as possible. Hold for a few seconds and let go.

10.  Hippie

hippie stretch

What It Does: The purpose of stretching exercises for seniors is to improve the posture and balance as well and this stretch helps to improve the balance and stretches the muscles on legs and back.

How to Perform

Stand comfortably with feet apart and bend forwards. Bend the waist and move your hands down your legs. Go as low as you can, if you are having difficulty you can bend one leg slightly but do keep your feet flat on the ground. Let your head dangle down and feel the stretch in the leg which is straight. Repeat the same with the other leg.

11.  Hula Hoop

hula hoop stretch

What It Does: This exercise helps to improve hip mobility.

How to Perform

Stand straight with your feet close to each other and your hands on both sides of your waist. Move your hips in a circular motion. Do it for five times in clockwise and five times in anti-clockwise direction. Do not move your shoulders and keep your tummy pulled in. Make the circle as wide as you can.

12.  90 Lat Stretch

90 lat stretch

What It Does: This exercise stretches all the back muscles.

How to Perform

You need to have a table in front of you to do this stretch. Stand with your feet apart and your arms by your sides. Bend down and put your hands flat on the table keeping your arms straight. Put pressure on the heels of your feet and lean back. Keep the tummy pulled in and the legs straight. Hold your back straight and don’t drop your head down. Maintain the stretch for 15 seconds.

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