Let’s look at the benefits of stretching exercises, especially as you get older. Being flexible into old age is a great help for daily life.
Stretching isn’t just for when you exercise. Taking a few stretch breaks throughout the day offers tremendous benefits. Besides making it easier to reach the top shelf, or bend to tie your shoes, it gives you energy and helps you function better mentally.
It’s also easy to do as you only need yourself and no equipment. You can also do it anytime during your day, and it keeps you younger for longer.
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The Benefits of Stretching Exercises
Starting from your 30s, your body’s connective tissues – muscles, tendons, and ligaments start to shorten and tighten, losing elasticity. Even more than aging, poor posture such as slumping while you sit, causes tightening and impedes blood flow. Over time this can create a buildup of calcifications (those hard knots most of us have in our upper back) plus a hunched, aged look and restricted movement.
But despite the damage, you’ve done, and no matter how old you are, flexibility can be regained by stretching regularly. When you stretch, you actually lengthen the muscles and tendons. The benefits of stretching exercises are more important as we age. When a muscle is flexible it enables the joint to completely flex, extend and move in multiple directions. Having this range of motion as we age is invaluable.
Enhanced flexibility and movement range also affect your life in ways you don’t realize. One of the best things you can do is to increase your body’s range of motion through stretching.
What Is The Right Way To Stretch?
Experts recommend that you stretch all your muscle groups rather than just doing the stretches that target your particular trouble spots. All your muscles and tendons work together, so if you ignore one stretch, then you won’t get the maximum benefit from the others.
As for how to stretch, it should come fairly naturally. We raise our arms when we get out of bed. We wiggle our backs if we feel a muscle ache. All of these motions are really stretches.
For maximum effectiveness, however, you need to keep a few rules in mind when you stretch.
- Stretch Regularly
- Aim for at least three times a week.
- Warm Up Your Muscles
Stretching is not a warm-up. Before stretching you need to spend at least five minutes doing some form of light aerobic activity, like walking, climbing stairs, or cleaning the house.
Work hard enough so that you feel warm and you sweat slightly. If you stretch after your workout, your muscles will be warm and supple.
Stretch only to the point where you feel the tension in the belly of the muscle, not pain in the joint.
Pushing your muscles in short jerky movements tears the muscle fibers. Instead, slowly and evenly move into the stretch until you feel resistance, then back off a little and hold that position.
Hold The Stretch
Aim for 30 to 60 seconds. Stretches held for at least 30 seconds increase flexibility the most.
Stay relaxed and don’t hold your breath. Take two or three deep breaths as you hold the stretch.
Do It Again
Do each stretch at least two times, but try for three or four times. The real benefits come in increments with each subsequent stretch. As little as ten minutes should do it.
Stretches To Make You Feel More Energized
Here are some great stretches that will make you feel more energized and younger instantly, as well as help you to battle the bulges.
This stretches your upper, middle, and lower back muscles.
Lie on your back with your legs outstretched. Bend both knees and hug them tightly to you your chest. Tuck your chin in and slowly bring your head up to meet your knees.
Stay relaxed and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat four times.
An easier variation would be to bring one knee into your chest at a time and hold the stretch for 30 seconds on each leg. If you feel any strain in your neck, leave your head on the floor.
Here you will stretch your middle and lower back muscles.
Lie on your back with your arms out to each side perpendicular to your body.
Keeping your shoulders flat on the floor bend your left knee up towards your chest and slowly bring the bent leg across your body. Turn your head to look at your right hand until your feel a stretch. Hold for 30 seconds then repeat to the other side. Do four of these stretches on each side.
This exercise stretches your Iliotibial band which is a really tough band that runs on the outside of your leg from your hip to your knee.
Lie on your right side with your right arm extended under your head. Bend your left knee and use your left hand to pull your heel up toward your buttock.
Take your right foot and place it on top of your left knee. Apply downward pressure with your right foot, pushing your left knee toward the floor. Hold for 30 seconds and then repeat on the opposite side.
This stretch should be done four times on each side.
Inner Thigh And Groin Stretch
Sit on the floor with your back straight and place the heels of your feet together with your hands around the front of your ankles. Using your forearms, slowly press your knees toward the floor until you feel a stretch.
Do not force your knees to the floor. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat four times.
To deepen the stretch in your hips, lean forward aiming your belly to the floor. Keep your back as straight as possible as you go forward.
Stand with your forearms against a wall and your right leg out in front of you with the knee bent.
The knee must not extend past your toes. Keep your left leg straight and your foot flat on the floor.
Slowly lean forward on your right leg until you feel a stretch in the back of your calf. Hold for 30 seconds. this will stretch the upper part of the calf. Bend your back leg slightly and repeat the stretch for the lower part of your calf.
Hold each stretch for 30 seconds then switch sides. Repeat this exercise four times on each leg.
Our bodies were designed for movement, but as we age, unfortunately, our joints and muscles become tighter. Stretching is a gentle, simple activity that anyone can do to alleviate aches and pains, as well as improve range of motion and flexibility.
This book guides you step-by-step through each stretch, arming you with the confidence you need to progress into deeper levels of stretching for enhanced flexibility, reduced pain, decreased stiffness, and better quality of life for years to come.
Stretch away your aches and pains with this guide to stretching, featuring:
- Customizable plans―From preparation to self-customization, incorporate stretching into your lifestyle with flexible regimes for your health and fitness goals.
- Stretching basics―Easy-to-understand explanations and detailed illustrations will show you exactly how to position your body and complete each stretch.
- Range of difficulties―“Change it up” tips allow you to increase or decrease intensity level while stretching.
No matter your age or level of activity, this guide will help you ease into the wonders of stretching, reduce stiffness, and feel your best.
Simply click on the link above or the picture of the book to find out more.
After a couple of weeks of doing some light stretches you will reap all the benefits of stretching exercises. Please comment below and let us know what your favorite stretches are.