Reap the benefits of flexibility with these expert tips

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:

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  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
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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.

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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!

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Tell us, how do you maintain your flexibility?

 

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