The primary goal of stretching for seniors is to prevent muscles and joints from becoming stiff from disuse. By regularly stretching your muscles and flexing your joints, you can help prevent many of the age-related conditions that affect the joints, muscles, and bones of an aging body. In this part of the guide, we’re going to go over the major muscle groups and joints that are most important to keep limber.
The 11 Major Muscle Groups
There are 11 major muscle groups that you want to make sure you’re using regularly and keeping stretched out. If you are also doing strength training exercises, these are the same muscle groups that you will be working out with that.
Forearms – Your lower arm has several muscles that are particularly important for lifting and holding objects.
Biceps – A large muscle found in each of your upper arms, your biceps help your forearms with lifting things.
Triceps – These are the other 2 muscles that are found in your upper arms. They help your body extend and bend your elbow.
Shoulders – There are a number of muscles on your front, back, and side that make up the shoulders which are responsible for arm movement.
Trapezius – Often referred to as traps, these are the muscles in your upper back that helps move your neck, head, and shoulder blade.
Chest – This group of muscles that covers your ribcage is responsible for helping with arm movement and breathing.
Abdominals – This important group of muscles located in your abdomen help with breathing and support your spine. They are often referred to as abs or your core muscles.
Back – One of the biggest muscle groups, your back muscles help support your spine and are a part of hip movement.
Quadriceps – These are the four muscles that are found at the front of your thigh and are a vital part of leg movement as they help control the hip and knee movements.
Hamstrings – The group of muscle that makes up the back of your thigh and help with the movement of the hip and knee as well.
Calves – The muscles found in your lower leg are what help you move your knee and flex your ankle.
The 7 Major Joints
Although you have a number of smaller joints in your fingers and toes, there are 7 major joints in the rest of your body that we’re going to cover. Every joint is made up of a combination of muscles that provide the movement, ligaments and tendons that connect bones and muscles, and bones.
Spine – Your spine helps support your upper body and houses the nerves that run to every body system. It’s made up of a number of individual vertebrae.
Shoulder – Primarily responsible for whole arm movements.
Elbow – In the middle of your arm, it helps with lifting.
Wrist – Made up of a number of parts, your wrist is an important part of hand movement.
Hip – Another ball-and-socket joint, this one responsible for whole leg movements.
Knee – This leg joint helps you to walk.
Ankle – Another joint that has many parts, your ankle stabilizes your legs and helps with walking.
Benefits of stretching for seniors
Muscles and Stretching
When you’re not using your muscles enough, they can become stiff which leads to painful movements. By regularly stretching, you can keep your muscles from getting stiff and improve their elasticity. The more elastic your muscles are, the less pain you will experience when you go about your day and the more you will be able to do.
Another benefit to regularly stretching for seniors is that it will improve your balance. This is because when your muscles are regularly stretched, they can respond better to movements which helps you stay balanced. This will not only allow you to be more confident when doing other exercises, but will help prevent falls which are especially dangerous for the aging body.
Bones and Stretching
While stretching itself doesn’t contribute to strengthening your bones, a number of exercises do, including walking, which you need to do before each stretching session to warm your muscles up. If you have specific concerns about bone loss, you will want to make sure you are doing some simple exercises that can build up bone mass in addition to stretching exercises.
Additionally, by stretching regularly, you will build up range of motion in your joints and better muscle flexibility which will help you more easily do the exercises that you need to do to improve your bone health. As your muscles move and get stronger during exercise, your bones will regain the bone density that was lost as you got older.
Joints and Stretching
Stretching can help make your joints more flexible, which is important for aging bodies since joints tend to get stiffer with age and lose flexibility. With greater flexibility, you have better range of motion. This can help eliminate movements that were previously painful, including a number of types of exercise along with daily activities.
Another benefit stretching provides in the joints is the stretching of tendons. Tendons connect your muscles to your bones and can get stiff and shorten over time if they are not used. The best way to loosen and lengthen your tendons to get your joints moving well again is by regularly stretching.
The other part of joints are the ligaments that hold bones together. These are supposed to be tough and not very flexible because they provide stability in the joint. However, with age, they can become too stiff, so stretching will help to get them back to where they’re supposed to be so rather than restricting your movements, they stabilize your joints and allow you to move freely.
Other Health Benefits to Stretching for Seniors
There are so many other health benefits to stretching for seniors, such as helping you to relax, improving your posture, increasing endurance and energy levels, promoting blood circulation, and reducing cholesterol. Keep reading through this course to find out more about how to stretch your aging body to improve your health.
Before Starting a Stretching Program
Before you start a stretching for seniors program, it’s important that you do these things first. Even though it may seem like a simple thing to begin stretching regularly, if you are not properly prepared, you have a much higher risk of injury. Preparation will also help you know exactly what you are getting into so you can stick with the program you decide on.
Talk to Your Doctor
Talking to your doctor about your current health is the most important thing that you can do before starting a stretching program. They will be able to tell you what areas you need to focus on and how often you should stretch to safely improve your health. If you have problems with your bones or heart, they may also start you on medications or supplements.
Find a Trainer
If you are new to stretching for seniors or your doctor recommends that you work with somebody to focus on specific problems, then you will need to find a trainer. For general help with stretching, you may be able to attend classes or find someone through a local gym. However, if you have physical limitations, you may need to find a physical therapist to help you.
Find a Location
It’s best to find a place where you can do your stretching exercises most easily and effectively. You may choose to do this at home, a gym, or your local community center. Since some stretches require some additional equipment, you’ll need to make sure you have access to these wherever you are. Many community centers will have small workout centers that are perfect for performing exercises, and they are usually much more affordable than gyms.
Get Proper Clothing
Wearing the right clothing can help you stretch much more easily, but it doesn’t have to be anything fancy or too expensive, so don’t worry. You simply want to wear clothing that won’t restrict your movements in any way. This can be tight-fitting clothes like spandex or yoga pants, but it can also be loose-fitting sweatpants if that’s more your style.
Get Some Stretching Equipment
You can do many stretches without equipment, but having some basic pieces of equipment will make some stretches easier and safer for your aging body. Stretch bands or resistance bands are great for making many stretches easier and more intense. An incline board provides you with an angled surface for various leg stretches, and a yoga mat is the best way to cushion your body when doing any stretches from the floor.
There are also a number of different machines designed specifically for stretching. These are a great way to get started because they force you to do the stretch properly which helps prevent injury and improve the effectiveness of the stretch. Unfortunately, these are generally fairly expensive, so if you can find a gym that has them, that is generally a better option.
Once you have everything ready, the only thing left to do is keep reading to learn more about stretching for seniors and get started with stretching every day.
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