Many people think that stretching is only necessary for runners or gymnasts. Quite the contrary, especially as we age we all need to stretch in order to sustain our mobility and hence our independence. Stretching should become part of our daily routines.
Stretching keeps muscles flexible, strong and healthy which is necessary to maintain the full range of motion in our joints. Without stretching muscles shorten and become tight so when muscles are required for activity, they are weakened and unable to fully extend. Tight shortened muscles put you at risk for joint pain, muscle strains and damage.
The critical areas for maintaining mobility are the lower extremities – calves, hamstrings, hip flexors (particularly important as we age to prevent bone loss and potential breaks) the pelvis and the quadriceps (front of the thigh). Stretching your shoulders, neck, and lower back is also beneficial both to your health as well as to your stress reduction.
Stretching once a day will not magically give you perfect flexibility. You need to do it over many months and remain totally committed to the process. It has likely taken years of no exercise or stretching to get tight muscles, don’t expect to reverse this in a couple of sessions.
Simple yoga poses, with prop assistance such as a chair, can be a good way to stretch those muscles, strengthen those bones and have fun at the same time.