As we age, our muscles get tighter and we pull them more easily than we did when we were younger. Maintaining healthy stretching habits helps keep your muscles open, elongates your joints, increases your range of motion, increases blood flow, and helps you avoid injuries. Here are some great stretches for people over age 50.
Do these stretches in the morning when you wake up or at night before you go to sleep. Stop any of these moves immediately if you feel any pain at all, no matter how slight. Hold each stretch for five deep breaths and repeat three to five times. Learn ten equipment-free exercises for seniors that you can do after you stretch.
Stretch your arms, your chest, and your shoulders.
Instructions: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Interlace your hands behind your tailbone with your knuckles down. Look straight ahead and gently pull your arms up as far away from your tailbone as you comfortably can.
Stretch your neck, your shoulders, and your upper back.
Instructions: While standing or sitting on the edge of a chair, bring your arms into an L-shape in front of you with your elbows as close to touching as possible, your palms facing you, and the sides of your pinky fingers touching. Place your palms on the top of your head and gently drop your chin until you feel a nice stretch in your neck and shoulders.
Bent Over Hip Stretches
Balance your hips, and stretch your hamstrings and lower back.
Instructions: Stand with your feet flat on the ground, hip-width apart. Slowly bend forward at your waist and walk your hands down your legs. Stop when the stretch feels good but is not uncomfortable. In this bent-over position, alternate bending one knee while you keep the other leg straight. Let your head dangle downward to release extra tension.
Hula Hoop Hip Swing
Warm up and loosen your hips to increase mobility.
Instructions: Stand with your feet together and your hands down by your waist. Place a chair beside you or stand near a table or counter and place one hand on it if you need extra support and help with balance. Circle your hips slowly around clockwise five to ten times, pause, then reverse and circle your hips slowly counterclockwise the same number of times. Try to keep your shoulders still and your abdominal muscles pulled in tight to help you maintain your balance.
Stretch your back.
Instructions: Make sure you have a table in front of you that is about waist-height. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your arms down by your sides. Pull your abdominal muscles in tight to help support your spine. Pull your shoulder blades up, back, and down. Lift your chest and tilt your chin up slightly. Bend your knees a little, shift your weight to your heels, and slowly bend forward at the hips. Keep your back flat. Place your hands on the table, making sure to keep your arms straight. There should be a straight line from your shoulders to your wrists. With your hands still on the table, your legs directly under your hips, and your chin tucked, lean back into your hips, straighten your legs, and gently pull your body toward the ground.
Overhead Triceps Stretch
Stretch the upper backs of your arms.
Instructions: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Roll your shoulders up, back, and down. Reach your right arm up to the ceiling, keeping your shoulder pulled down and away from your ear. Bend your right elbow and place your right hand behind your head toward the middle of your upper back with your palm facing your back. Take the fingers of your left hand and place them on your right elbow and gently push your right arm down with your left arm. Drop your right arm and repeat the same move on your left arm.
Align your spine and improve your posture.
Instructions: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes slightly angled out. Interlace the fingers of your hands and bring them chest level, about six inches in front of you, with your palms facing away from your body and your elbows out to the sides. In this position, keep your lower body stationary and twist your upper body from side to side, leading with your elbows. Only go as far as feels comfortable. Keep your head in line with your torso.
Stretch your thighs and help prevent knee injuries.
Instructions: Stand with your feet together and your arms at your sides. Place your right hand on the wall, a chair, a table, or a counter top for support. Put all of your weight on your right side. Bend your left knee back and bring your foot up toward your backside until you can grab your left ankle with your left hand. Try to keep your body in a straight line from your head to your tailbone. Gently pull the left foot toward your backside until you feel a slight stretch. Keep your chest lifted and your chin up, facing straight ahead. Drop your left leg and repeat the same move on the right side.