3 Essential Stretches You Need to Know
When it comes to stretching, there are innumerable stretches that you can do, all of which can help you become more flexible, increase mobility, and reduce muscle and joint pain.
But, with so many to choose from, it can be hard to know which ones to do.
Of course if you have a certain part of your body that you want to focus on, then you can do various stretches for that part of the body.
However, if you’re looking for stretches that help your entire body, then there are a few other ones that you’ll need to do.
Here are 3 essential stretches you need to know:
This stretch will stretch out your abdominal, back, and lateral muscles as well as your hips.
Begin the stretch from a standing position with your feet in line with your shoulders.
Reach your hands over your head and press the palms of your hands together as high as you can reach.
Take a deep breath in and pull your spine as straight and tall as you can manage.
As you exhale, bend your body to the right so that you can feel the stretch through your arm and down your left side.
Be sure to maintain a good form by keeping your arms and upper body in the same position.
Hold the pose for 60 seconds, maintaining deep breathing throughout.
Then, return to an upright position as you exhale and do the same thing to the left.
Although not quite as effective, this stretch can also be done from a chair.
This stretch focuses on your chest muscles, triceps, and shoulders.
Begin from a standing or sitting position.
Then, reach your arms behind your head, clasping your hands at the back of your head.
As you take a deep breath in, lift your chest as you pull your elbows back and keep your hands anchored behind your head.
Relax your position slightly as you exhale, then continue to stretch your chest and arm muscles further with each subsequent breath.
You should maintain this pose for 10 slow breaths or 60 seconds.
Use this stretch to improve range of motion in your knees and to stretch out your quadriceps.
While standing, lift your right foot up and grab it with your right hand at the ankle.
Gently pull your heel to your glute until you can feel the stretch in the front of your leg.
Keep your knees as close together as you hold the pose for 60 seconds.
Once you finish on one side, you can do the same with the left leg.
This pose can only be done while standing.
If you are worried about maintaining balance during this stretch, you can hold onto a sturdy piece of furniture or use a wall to steady yourself while performing this essential stretch.
By doing these 3 essential stretches every day, you will quickly see improvements in these parts of the body in terms of flexibility and mobility.
Stretching Frequency and Volume
There’s a lot of information out there on how often you should stretch and how much stretching you should do.
That can make it difficult to determine what the appropriate amount of stretching is and the frequency at which you should be stretching.
Fortunately, there is some good information out there on what will work best for most people.
How Often Should I Stretch?
You should be doing stretches every day.
This is important because in order to see results from stretching exercises, you need to stretch at least 6 times per week.
So, making it a daily thing will ensure that you get those 6 stretching sessions in every week, even if something comes up and you have to skip a day.
Plus, an extra stretching session surely won’t hurt anything.
How Much Stretching Should I Do?
The minimum amount of stretching that you need to be doing to see results is one minute per muscle per day.
Although you can certainly stretch for longer if you want, studies have shown that it’s usually the first 60-second stretch that has the most impact on flexibility.
It’s also best to do this as one 60-second stretch rather than trying to break it up throughout the day.
In younger people, they can get the same benefit of a 30-second stretch as they can a 60-second one.
However, in older people, they had to do the same stretch for 60 seconds to get the same benefit from it.
It should also be noted that in older people, they had to stretch frequently in order to maintain the gains they had gotten from stretching.
Full Body Verses Split Stretch Routine
A full body stretch routine is one in which every muscle in the body is stretched, either one at a time, or in groups.
This type of stretching is often focused on in yoga, as the poses engage and stretch multiple areas of the body at once.
The main benefit of full body stretching is that it ensures that every part of your body is stretched every day.
Split stretch routines are ones that focus only on one muscle group or part of the body at a time.
These are typically split up throughout the week, so that a different area of the body is stretched every day.
The idea is that this gives those muscles time to rest and recover in between.
This has the benefit of being a much shorter stretching session since you’re only doing a few muscles every day.
While the only drawback of the full body stretch routine is that it takes up a larger portion of your day, there are several to the split stretch routines.
Since it may not be possible for you to get in 6 stretches per muscle per week if you’re stretching different muscles every day, you may not see the benefits that you would if you stretched everything every day.
The best way to benefit from stretching is to do a full body stretch routine every day, in which every muscle in your body is stretched for at least 60 seconds.
Should I Do the Same Stretches Every Day or Varied?
There’s a lot of debate when it comes to stretching about what is the best way to improve flexibility.
Some believe that doing the same stretches every day will provide the best results while others suggest that doing so could do more harm than good.
This leads them to believe that you should vary your stretches every day.
Strength Training is NOT Stretching
More than likely, this belief that you can’t stretch the same muscles two days in a row comes from the idea that you shouldn’t do strength training on the same muscles two days in a row.
While this is true of strength training which works by damaging then repairing muscles, it’s not true of stretching which shouldn’t damage your muscles.
Stretching does not damage muscles at the cellular level the way strength training does.
Instead, it gently pulls your muscles and lengthens the fibers while extending the range of motion in the nearby joints.
For this reason, it’s not only safe but beneficial to stretch every day.
One recent study even found that stretching muscles less than 6 times per week did nothing for them.
The study focused on the hamstring in the upper leg because this large muscle is easiest to measure.
Four sets of participants stretched the muscle at different intervals throughout the week.
Some stretched every day while others stretched only 3 days per week.
It was found that those that stretched every day improved the length of their muscle while those who only stretched 3 days had little improvement.
Why Stretch Every Day
It’s important to realize that while you may not exercise every day, you are moving every day, which is why it’s important to stretch those muscles every day if you want to get more flexible.
You use your muscles while performing regular tasks every day, so as they get used, they are warmed up and ready to be stretched to encourage flexibility.
Another reason to stretch every day is that it keeps you in the habit.
Even if stretching is the only thing you do as far as exercise goes every day, it’s beneficial.
However, if you only stretch a few days a week, it’s easy to forget and get lazy about it.
However, if you make it part of your daily routine, then it’s easier to remember and soon your day won’t feel complete without stretching.
What to Stretch Every Day
The best thing you can do for your body is to go ahead and stretch everything every day.
If you have certain areas that you’re concerned about or want to focus on, then you may even want to do these twice per stretching session or twice per day.
But, in general, it’s a good idea to make sure that every part of your body gets stretched every day.
To make sure that you stretch every part of your body every day, find a routine to follow, whether you go along with a DVD or create a written list of your favorite stretches that cover every major muscle group.
By doing the same thing every day, this will further help you establish a routine and will ensure that you cover every part every day.
5 Ways to Improve Stability for a Senior
For many seniors, stability is a huge problem.
This is because if you aren’t stable and able to maintain your balance well, you are more likely to fall.
For seniors, falling is dangerous because with weaker bones and joints, serious injuries are likely.
Fortunately, there are a number of things that seniors can do to improve stability.
Here are 5 ways to improve stability for a senior:
By far the best way that you can improve your stability at any age is to regularly engage in balance exercises.
There are quite a few balance exercises to choose from that will help you strengthen the right muscles so that you can walk with more confidence and stability.
Some balance exercises will require you to use various pieces of exercise equipment such as dumbbells and balance balls, but others don’t need anything other than your body.
That makes it easy to do balance exercises no matter where you are!
This is another type of exercise that you can do to improve stability as a senior.
Stretching exercises help to increase the range of motion in joints which can ease the pain of arthritis.
In turn, this can stabilize your joints and improve your overall stability.
Like balance exercises, there are plenty that you can do that don’t require any equipment.
The old adage that “if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it” is true when it comes to how active you are.
If you want to maintain and improve your stability, you need to stay active and keep using your whole body.
This will help you in more ways than just improving stability.
Staying active as a senior can also help you avoid common conditions that the elderly often face such as osteoporosis, arthritis, and heart disease.
If you are overweight, getting more active will help you lose weight which will improve your overall health condition.
You would be surprised at what a good pair of shoes can do for your stability.
In fact, the right pair of shoes could make the crucial difference between walking easily and risking falling just by making a trip from the couch to the fridge.
Good shoes provide stability because they give you a flat surface to walk on and plenty of cushion so you have some room for error when you place your foot down.
They will also make walking around significantly more comfortable which reduces foot, knee, hip, and even back pain associated with poor foot support.
Ask your doctor if a walking aid is right for you to help improve your stability.
He or she will be able to prescribe you the right level of assistance when it comes to walking aids.
For some people, these walking aids are only temporary help that can improve stability by allowing you to be more active as you build up your muscles to be able to walk unassisted again.
If you’re a senior and concerned about your stability, then get started on following these tips today to be able to keep enjoying your life!
Tips to Help Mobility in Your Senior Years
In your senior years, mobility is one of the things that can help you live longer and feel better.
However, it’s also something that naturally diminishes because as you age, you begin to lose muscle mass and may not be as active as you once were.
However, by following these tips, you can have better mobility and be able to continue with a good quality of life no matter how old you get.
Here are six tips to improve mobility in your senior years:
Talk to Your Doctor
The first thing you want to do to improve your mobility is to talk to your doctor about your concerns.
He or she will be able to help you create a personalized plan that you can use to start getting around better so you can get out and about and truly enjoy your golden years.
They may prescribe supplements, exercise regimens, or a walking aid to help you with mobility.
Use Your Walking Aid
Although you may not like it, if you are one of many seniors who struggle with their balance, then you need to use your prescribed walking aid.
Using the appropriate one will allow you to get the right amount of assistance, so talk to your doctor to find out if you need as little as a cane to keep you upright or a walker to ensure that you can get around safely.
Do Balance Exercises
Speaking of impaired balance, there are a number of things that you can do to improve your balance no matter how old you are.
This will not only help you with your mobility so you can walk more confidently, but it will also help you with a number of other tasks that can be dangerous if your balance is impaired, including getting in and out of chairs, and picking things up from the floor.
Do Strength Training Exercises
Two of the biggest reasons seniors struggle with mobility is that they have weakened bones and muscle loss.
Both of these problems can be solved with strength training.
There are plenty of easy strength training exercises that seniors can do which will actually help to regrow lost bone and muscle mass to help with mobility.
Get More Active
The more you get up and get moving, the more mobile you will become.
There are so many ways for seniors to get active, whether it’s to join a fitness group at a community or senior center, to follow an exercise DVD at home, or even just picking up a new hobby.
Whatever you decide to do, getting active will help you maintain and improve mobility in your senior years.
As you can see, it’s easy to help improve your mobility, and the sooner you start, the sooner you can begin to reap the benefits of stronger muscles and bones.
You’ll feel better, and may soon be able to play with your grandchildren like you want!