Stretching Exercises to Aid Senior Living

November 12, 2012

Stretching Exercises to Aid Senior Living

Senior living is impeded by stiff, painful joints and limbs. In order to combat this pain, seniors are often advised to exercise. But some exercises can worsen joint pain. Stretching exercises can help senior citizens stay flexible and perform tasks younger people take for granted, such as tying shoes or opening a bottle of soda. Stretching exercises are like lubrication oil for the human machine. One reason muscles become stiff and inflexible is through lack of use. Reasons for not using certain muscles or joints could be due to bad posture, a medical condition such as scoliosis or lack of exercise. Gentle exercise and stretching helps use all of the muscles in the body. Before embarking on any exercise program, seniors are urged to consult with their doctors. In this way, their doctors can help them set realistic fitness goals without injury. Senior living is difficult enough without adding a broken bone to daily problems. Advantages of Stretching Exercises It’s never too late to begin stretching exercises, even if you have never been on an exercise program before. These are low-impact exercises that do not subject bones or joints to damage from high-impact exercises such as jogging on pavement. Senior living can be unpredictable, but five to ten minutes of stretching exercises can often be worked into a busy day or a day of higher pain than usual.

Stretching exercises can also be worked into other exercise routines like swimming, walking, gardening, horseback riding or lifting small weights. The exercises are a great way to cool down and readjust from the workout. They do not need any specialized equipment and so can fit in to most senior living arrangements. Athletes of all ages are urged by their coaches and trainers to take time out for stretching after a workout so their muscles do not feel tight and sore the next day.

Stretching Tips for Senior Citizens

Seniors should stretch when the muscles are warm, ideally after a workout. But if a senior is housebound, stretching can come after a series of normal daily tasks such as making breakfast, eating and doing the washing up. Stretching helps blood circulate better to muscles but only when they are warmed up. Stretching up “cold” muscles can cause muscle damage and soreness.

If incorporating stretching into exercise routines, stretch the muscle so that it is the same length it is when the muscle is resting. When muscles exercise, the fibers inside shorten. Muscles fibers are longest when the muscle is relaxed. Stretching can help keep the shortened muscles from getting injured. Even though the muscles eventually relax and lengthen on their own, they can still be injured.

To best aid senior living, stretch every 3 days. Begin at five minutes and then gradually lengthen to ten minutes. Muscles need time to recover from exercises.

Hold a stretch for 15 to 30 seconds. Do not try to stretch the muscle or body part any further. Keep still while stretching. Do not bounce or jiggle as this can damage the muscle and cause pain and stiffness.

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