By: Dr. Beth Templin
Being flexible is not only beneficial after a workout to prevent sore muscles, it's also important to remain flexible as you age to complete some of your normal day to day tasks. It's normal to get a little stiffer as you age. But problems arise when you become too limited with your motion. As people become more stiff, we hear complaints of not being able to do regular daily activities.
When you start to develop stiff shoulders, you may have difficulty putting on your shirt or jacket. Others have trouble washing or brushing their hair because they can't reach overhead.
Lack of motion in your hips can lead to trouble with putting on socks and shoes, or difficulty bending over to pick up something from the floor.
Stiffness in your knees leads to problems with walking up and down stairs. Getting up and down from the floor also becomes challenging when you have stiff knees.
Not having enough movement in your ankles can actually increase your risk of having a fall! You need adequate motion in your ankles to be able to adapt to uneven surfaces like grass and gravel and walk successfully up and down hills and ramps.
Poor posture can also result from tightness in some of the muscles of your neck, chest and back. This is why maintaining your overall flexibility is so important as you age.
If stretching and improving your overall flexibility is your goal, here are a few things to consider:
1. Make sure you do a good warm-up.
"Warm" muscles stretch better than "cold" muscles. Especially when you have medical issues like arthritis, you will be able to stretch with less discomfort if you've warmed-up.
2. Stretch slowly and avoid pain.
You should be able to feel the stretch, but it should never be painful. Stretches should be held for 10-30 seconds and repeated 3-4 times each.
3. Make stretching a part of your regular fitness routine.
In order to see improvements in your range of motion, you will need to commit to performing stretching activities for 10 minutes a day, 2 times a week.
In addition to helping you stay active and independent, stretching can also be very relaxing and help to relieve stress! So why not give it a try
Dr. Beth helps adults 55+ maximize their independence and fitness, so they can continue to enjoy a full and active life.