Home / Blog / Why Is Flexibility Important for Seniors?

Why Is Flexibility Important for Seniors?

Bending your body into a pretzel for a game of Twister might have been child’s play in your younger years. But as we grow older, our bodies lose flexibility due to several normal parts of the aging process, including the thinning of cartilage and a lack of lubricating fluid in the joints. Fortunately, routine stretching and physical activity can go a long way toward keeping you flexible in your sunset years. But perhaps you doubt the importance of regular stretching. Why is flexibility important for seniors?

Why Is Flexibility Important for Seniors?

It increases your range of motion.

Flexibility is necessary to maintain your joints’ range of motion. When you forgo stretching, your muscles become shorter and tighter, making them unable to extend fully. This can make certain tasks feel harder and increases your risk of joint pain and muscle damage.

It lowers your risk of injury.

An inflexible body increases the likelihood that you’ll experience an injury. Short, tight muscles may be damaged when they’re suddenly required to stretch. In addition, they may not be able to support your joints, which can cause injuries. Flexibility is especially important for older people, as healthy muscles can help you avoid falls.

It improves your ability to complete day-to-day activities.

Picking up a pen that’s fallen on the floor. Retrieving a hat on the top shelf of your closet. Looking over your shoulder to talk to a friend at church. All of these basic, everyday activities will be easier if you’re flexible.

It’s necessary for many forms of physical activity.

If you aren’t very flexible generally, the idea of trying certain forms of physical activity can be both intimidating and inadvisable. Even if you’re interested in trying golf, yoga, dancing, or a workout class, your doctor may recommend avoiding these activities because your lack of flexibility presents a risk.

It feels good!

Finally, don’t forget that stretching can feel amazing! It’s relaxing, it may boost your mood, and it’s easy to make progress if you keep at it.

How to Boost Your Flexibility

If you’re hoping to increase your flexibility, why not start today? Regular stretching is the key. Try to stretch at least two or three times each week. As you get started, keep the following tips from the Mayo Clinic in mind:

  • Warm up first. Stretching cold muscles can be dangerous. Instead, stretch after you’ve warmed up by walking or lightly jogging in place.
  • Don’t bounce. Stretch your body in smooth movements.
  • Hold the stretch. About 30 seconds should do it, though you may need a full minute for problem areas.
  • Stop if it hurts. Stretching shouldn’t be painful, and pain is not a sign of effectiveness.
  • Stretch both sides. If you stretch your right leg, remember to stretch your left. You want both sides of your body to be equally flexible, as this can prevent injury.
  • Focus on your calves, thighs, hips, lower back, neck, and shoulders. These muscle groups are used often in daily life, so your stretches will have a big impact.

If you’re struggling to incorporate stretching into your routine and want an alternative to basic stretching sessions, consider trying yoga, tai chi, or pilates. These forms of exercise incorporate stretching, so you’ll gain flexibility and strength at the same time. As an added bonus, they can help with balance, which is also critical as we age.

Finally, remember that it’s important to talk to your doctor before starting a new stretching or exercise routine. Discuss the most appropriate way for you to safely improve your flexibility, taking any health concerns into consideration.

Good luck and happy stretching!

Are you planning to retire in Greenville, South Carolina? Be sure to check out The Gables on Pelham, a continuing care retirement community that welcomes seniors from all walks of life. We offer flexible and personalized care, including assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing, and rehabilitation. You’ll love our cozy accommodations, fun-filled events calendar, and welcoming community atmosphere. To learn more, please schedule a tour or give us a call at 864-713-1377.