Stretching: we often think of it as a pre-exercise activity, but did you know it’s also an exercise in itself? There are many physical and mental benefits to stretching—it increases blood flow and range of motion, and can help reduce stress and improve your mood. It also helps prevent injuries, which we’re increasingly at risk for as we age and our muscles tighten.
Next Avenue recently published a list of “The Best Stretches For People 50+,” and we thought we’d share a few.
Arm Openers stretch your arms, chest and shoulders. To perform this stretch, stand with feet apart and interlace your hands behind your tailbone with knuckles facing down. Look straight ahead, relax your arms, then gently push your arms up as far away from your tailbone as possible. When you get to a nice stretch, take five deep breaths into your chest.
“Hula Hoop” loosens up your hips, increasing mobility. To perform this stretch, stand with your feet together and hands on your waist. Circle your hips five times in each direction. Imagine a string dangling from the top of your head, elongating your spine. Try to keep your shoulders still, your stomach pulled in (remember to keep breathing!), and move your hips in as wide a circle as possible.
Overhead Triceps stretches your arms. To perform this stretch, stand with your feet hip-width apart and roll your shoulders down and back. Being mindful not to raise your shoulder, lift your right arm to the ceiling. Bend your right elbow, reaching your right hand to your mid-back with palm facing the back. Raise your left hand to the ceiling and place your left hand on your right arm, just above your elbow. Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds. Repeat 2-4 times, a little deeper each time. Repeat on the other side.
90 Lat Stretch loosens up your back. To perform this stretch, you’ll need to be near a table. Stand with feet hip-width apart and arms at your sides. Contract your abdominal muscles to stabilize your spine. Pull shoulder blades down and back, with chest lifted and chin tilted slightly up. Bending your knees slightly, shift your weight over your heels and then slowly bend forward from the hips, lowering hands to the table. Keep back flat and abdominals contracted. Arms should be straight so there is a line from shoulders to elbows to wrists. Keeping arms on the table and legs under hips, lean back into hips, straighten legs and draw body to the ground, keeping back flat. Keep chin tucked into your neck to stabilize your spine. Do not drop head toward the floor. Hold for 15-30 seconds. Repeat 2-4 times.
Stretching is an important part of a daily exercise routine, but it’s also a great thing to do when you’re feeling especially tight, or when your muscles are subject to unusual stress or exertion. Check out the list for more stretches to incorporate into your routine.