Be More Flexible: Stretch

Be More Flexible at Kirby Pines

Stretching helps ease joint pain and muscle aches and also improves mobility, flexibility, coordination, and circulation. On top of the physical benefits, it also reduces stress and boosts mood. Chair exercises like stretching are perfect for seniors because they can be adapted for physical limitations, minimize the risk of injury due to falls, and still give health benefits. The only equipment needed is a sturdy, non-slip chair. The Sit and Stand classes on Tuesday/ Thursday at 11:00 am and the Yoga Stretch class on Wednesday at 10:30 am use a variety of stretches.

Gaining flexibility takes time. Go slowly, and listen to your body. One stretch doesn’t fit everyone, but there are many variations. For example, if you can’t sit on the floor to stretch your thighs, try a standing thigh exercise. As you improve flexibility, you’ll be able to reach farther with the same stretch—or try different stretches for the same muscle.

Other tips to keep in mind:

  • Warm up by walking in place for five minutes. This will prepare your heart, muscles, and joints for activity.
  • Never force a stretch. Don’t bounce or jerk to get deeper into a stretch. Smooth, gentle movements are safer.
  • Don’t lock your joints. Your arms and legs can be straight while stretching, but they shouldn’t be stiff. If it’s more comfortable, bend your elbows and knees slightly.
  • Keep breathing. Like your movements, your breath should be slow and steady. Hold your stretch for 30-45 seconds.
  • Aim to stretch every day. Try it for 10 to 15 minutes a day, at least three days a week. Stretch each muscle group three to five times each session.

Ultimately, flexibility is about enjoying your life. By increasing your range of motion, you’ll be less prone to injury while exercising, traveling, or playing with your grandkids. You’ll feel less stiff and more comfortable going about everyday activities like walking, lifting, bending, and even driving. You’ll improve your posture, circulation, and balance while relieving pain and stress.