Live Long and Limber: Maintaining Flexibility as You Age


As you grow older, it's harder to keep the same level of activity and flexibility you had when you were younger if you are not vigilant. However, staying flexible as you move into your senior years is essential for good health. As your muscles age, they lose natural elasticity and become shorter. Your range of motion and your ability to do everyday activities without pain will decrease unless you take care to stretch and use your muscles every day. Here are some things you can do to stay as mobile and independent as possible.

1. Stay strong.

Flexibility is not just about stretching when you wake up in the morning. You first need strong muscles to exercise and stretch with. To prevent loss of muscle mass and to keep your body working, you can do resistance exercises that will stabilize and utilize your large muscle groups. The stronger and more useful your muscles, the slower they will degenerate and the longer you'll be able to improve or maintain flexibility. 

To increase strength and flexibility at the same time, you can try static stretches. These are stretches that isolate a specific muscle group as you hold a certain position for several seconds. For example, you isolate your quadriceps in a static stretch when you stand on one leg, grab the ankle of the other leg from behind, and bend your knee, pulling your leg and up and back behind you. This stretch improves flexibility, but it also strengthens the core and the muscles in the supporting leg. You should only do static stretches after you warm your muscles up up with some brief cardio, like a brisk walk.

2. Stretch during normal activities.

Active stretching helps you to stay flexible for normal, daily activities. Active stretching is also beneficial because it does not require balance or even that much of a warm up. Examples of active stretching include these:

  • Reaching for a cup from a high shelf. As you reach, tighten your abdominal muscles and really focus on the range of motion as you grasp the cup.
  • Squatting down to pick up a book. Instead of bending at the waist, stretch your inner thighs and quads by squatting to pick something from the ground. 
  • Lunging as you go up stairs. As you walk up stairs, take them slowly, and maybe skip a step to extend your reach. Sink deeply into the stair to strengthen and stretch your legs at the same time. 

For more suggestions on improving your flexibility as you get older, speak with a physical therapist who specializes in senior treatment. 


16 May 2016

Helping Mom To Settle In

After I realized that my mom couldn't live on her own anymore, I started shopping for the right assisted living center. It was challenging and she was nervous about making the transition, but I knew that it would be in her best interest. After finding an incredible senior center, I moved her in and she actually started to enjoy the experience. This blog is all about helping your elderly loved ones to settle in, enjoy their time in senior living, and make the most of their new lives. You never know, by making the right decisions, your parents could enjoy a happier, healthier life.