Reap the benefits of flexibility with these expert tips 3



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Did you know daily tasks that require bending and reaching can be made easier just by stretching for a few minutes each day?

As we age, our muscles may become shorter and less elastic which can cause pain and decreased range of motion in the shoulders, hips and spine. When this is combined with natural effects of ageing such as changing bone and joint structure, simple daily tasks can become more painful and challenging.

I recommend stretching for just a couple of minutes, 4 to 5 times a week to help improve your flexibility and help make these daily tasks less painful.

As well as aiding in movement, a stretching routine can also relieve tension when combined with deep breathing exercises and good posture.

Three tips to improve your flexibility:

  1. Always be sure to warm up, even before you stretch! It doesn’t need to be strenuous, a light walk or a quick ride on a stationary bike will aid in this process and get the blood pumping.
  2. Muscle tightness is most commonly found in the hamstrings, back, and shoulders. During a stretching session, it’s important to try 1 – 2 stretches for each region of the body and to practice this at least 4 times a week to help increase flexibility.
  3. Remember to hold each stretch for a minimum of 20- 30 seconds without bouncing in the stretch. Once you are balanced in the stretch, begin holding for 20 seconds.


Try it yourself at home!

I also recommend trying these easy, try-at-home stretches:

  • Hamstring stretch

In a seated position, bend one leg in and straighten the other leg out. Then reach your chest down towards the straight leg and hold for 20-30 seconds, before repeating on the other side.

Benefit: This stretch will help to increase the flexibility of your hamstrings and lower back, as well as aiding in daily tasks such as tying shoe laces or picking up objects from the floor.


  • Neck side stretch

Tilt your head towards your shoulder and then gently use your hand to pull your head closer to your shoulder, holding for 20-30 seconds on each side.

Benefit: This stretch will improve your range of motion in your neck and upper back plus aid with daily tasks such as bending down low to look into cupboards and under beds.


  • Chest and shoulder stretch

Stand in the middle of a standard doorway and put your arms up against the doorway on either side of your body at shoulder height, maintaining a bent elbow position. Then, gently push the weight of your body forward through the doorway whilst resisting gently with your arms and hold for 20-30 seconds.

Benefit: This stretch can improve your posture as well as your lung function!


Tell us, how do you maintain your flexibility?


Authored by Nature’s Own Exercise Physiologist and Dietitian, Kate Save

Kate Save

Kate Save is an Accredited Practicing Dietitian, Accredited Exercise Physiologist, has completed a double degree in Nutrition/Dietetics and Exercise Science, and completed an Advanced Diploma in Diabetes Education. Kate has over 10 years of experience in the Health and Fitness industry. Kate is the Director of Peninsula Physical Health and Nutrition which has 7 locations across the Mornington Peninsula as well as managing Dietitian and Exercise Physiology services for 2 Private hospitals. Kate also lectures in the fields of Nutrition and Exercise Science for various educational institutions - her key areas of focus are Weight loss, Diabetes, Heart Disease, Bariatric Surgery Nutrition, Coeliac Disease, Eating Disorders, food intolerances and irritable bowel conditions. Her main objective is to assist individuals achieve optimal health and well-being through balanced nutrition and appropriate exercise prescription.

  1. 27 years ago I was diagnosed with Osteoarthritis and my GP who also has it suggested I get myself a copy of “The Muscle Fitness Book by Francine St George” which I did.

    Yes it is a book on stretching and it is the best $20 I have ever spent.

    I do my daily stretches but, if I have a twinge at any time I can do specific stretches several times for immediate relief.

    Yes one still has to get exercise.

  2. When I get to bed each night I irregularly do the following:

    * Lay flat across the bed with my heels over the edge – just because it feels so good – and lay there enjoying it for about half a minute.
    * Sit up with legs extended forward, feet together and reach to my feet, relaxing and releasing my stomach and shoulders. Breathing deep and relaxing. Hold it for about half a minute. Do this 3 times.
    * Open legs and reach first to one foot laying along that leg and relaxing, walk my hands over to the other leg and repeat. Do this twice for each leg. Put both hands on the bed between my knees and drop my elbows as close to the bed as is comfortable, holding and relaxing for a count of 7.
    * Roll onto my back, flat on the bed and bend both knees to my chest, cuddle them tight and gently lift my head off the bed, hold my legs behind the knees and straighten my legs up into the air. Hold each pose for a count of 7, and repeat 3 times. (this is great for strengthening the lower back so my physio tells me).
    * Turn over onto my hands and knees with hands reasonably far forward, then sit back onto my feet, head down. Hold for a count of 7 and repeat a couple of times.

    This routine is gentle and once done I generally get a really good night’s sleep. I can now lay flat along my outstretched legs to my feet, and the feet in air pose I now do with straight legs. Little bit at a time and each time flexibility improves.

  3. Love doing my daily stretches. Afterwards I go to my Aerobics and Zumba. Keep moving that’s important.

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