The other day I bent over to pick something up I had dropped. And I have to be honest with you. I was shocked with how inflexible I’ve become.
My joints creaked. My muscles complained. And I groaned like an old floorboard.
That’s when I realized that it’s time to do something to limber back up. And if you’re feeling the same way I’d like to invite you to join me.
It’s quite common to become less flexible as we age. Especially if you’re battling pain or a chronic illness. But as any senior who practices yoga, is a dedicated dancer, or who happens to be an enthusiastic stretcher can attest, we don’t have to become stiff as a board just because we’re getting up in years.
Today I’m going to share eight simple but effective stretches with you. If you commit to doing them daily with me, you’ll start to notice a difference in just days. And within a month, you may find they’ve literally changed your life.
Stay safe while doing stretches
But before we get started let’s talk safety.
We’re stretching to feel BETTER. So we certainly don’t want to do anything which could make things worse.
That means checking in with your doctor to get his thumbs up before you start. As well as taking things slow and never pushing beyond your limits.
If you’re stiff like I am these stretches probably won’t feel comfortable at first. But they should NEVER hurt. If you ever feel actual pain stop immediately.
And remember, you should never force a stretch. You want to make smooth and gentle movements, with no jerking or bouncing. If something is too difficult to do adapt the movement and try it again later when you feel ready.
Be sure to breathe throughout, with even slow breaths. If you’re a little unsteady on your feet have a friend around to offer a hand if needed. And drink plenty of fluids.
8 daily stretches to improve your flexibility
Before you do any stretching, you need to warm up. This will help prep your joints and muscles so you can avoid injuries. And the easiest way to do that is simply march in place for about five minutes. Put on some music to make the time fly by.
So are you ready? Let’s do this.
Arms, shoulders and chest:
Stand facing a wall. You want to be a bit more than an arm’s length away with your feet about shoulder width apart. Lean forward placing your palms flat on the wall in front of you, around shoulder height. With your back straight, slowly move your hands up the wall as far as is comfortable. You should end up with your arms above your head. Hold this stretch for up to 30 seconds, and then slowly reverse it. Repeat at least three times.
Still standing straight reach behind you with both arms, pulling your shoulders back and clasping your hands behind your back. Hold for 15 seconds and release.
Now continue standing (or sit in a sturdy chair) with your back straight. Lower your left ear toward your left shoulder, turn your head slightly to the left and tuck your chin in towards your body. Place your left hand behind your head and gently push down moving your nose towards your armpit. Hold for 30 seconds. (Remember no bouncing!) Now repeat on the other side.
Thighs, calves and hamstrings:
You’ll need a sturdy chair and an exercise band, belt or towel for this one. Stand behind the chair with your feet flat and about shoulder width apart. Holding onto the chair with your left hand for balance begin to bend your right knee lifting your foot off the ground. Loop your exercise band around your right foot and grasping both ends of the band gently lift your right leg up towards your rear end with your knee pointing down towards the floor. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds and slowly return to your starting position. Repeat twice on both legs.
Stand facing a wall a little more than an arm’s length away. Your feet should be about shoulder width apart. Lean forward placing your hands flat against the wall at around shoulder height. Step forward with your left leg and bend it at the knee. With your feet still flat on the ground, bend your right knee slightly until you feel the stretch in your calf. Hold for 15 seconds and then return to your original position. Repeat three times on both sides.
Sit down on a flat surface such as a bench or the edge of the bed. Swing your body sideways and lift your right leg onto the bench or bed. Your left foot will remain flat on the floor and your right leg will be stretched out in front of you straight with your toes pointing towards the ceiling. Now lean forward slightly at the hips and as soon as you feel a gentle stretch in your hamstring stop and hold for 10 to 15 seconds. Gently sit back up. Repeat one more time, then switch sides and do the same with the other leg.
Begin by standing straight with your hands on your hips. Now gently lean backwards slightly, looking at the ceiling as you arch your back. (Don’t lean too far and have a friend spot you if you feel unsteady.) Hold for five seconds and return to standing straight. Repeat five times.
Now sit towards the front of sturdy chair with your feet flat on the floor and about shoulder width apart. Gently bend forward at the hips, keeping your neck and back straight. Relax into the stretch, hold it for 15 to 30 seconds and slowly straighten back up to your original position. As you gain flexibility, you can bend further by sliding your hands down your shins.
That’s it. You’re done for today. And I hope you feel fantastic. If you find yourself a little sore tomorrow don’t worry, that’s perfectly normal. It will get better with time.
If you feel like switching things up, I recommend visiting YouTube and searching for other stretching routines to try. Keep this up every day and I promise your WILL see results.
We can’t stop getting older, but that doesn’t mean we have to keep getting stiffer too. Limber up and fight stiffness and pain with these simple stretching exercises instead.
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