Why Stretching Is Great For Older Adults

By Daily Graphic

Flexibility, or the lack thereof, is probably the single most important factor affecting our quality of life as we age.

The pain and stiffness of aging begin as temporary tensions that become learned habits. But don't assume that with aging you will automatically lose your flexibility.

You can counterbalance the effects of aging so that your physiology is quite a bit younger than your chronology.

When you stay flexible, you'll be able to live with vibrancy, energy, and independence.

The benefits of stretching for older adults
Over the years, we develop habitual ways of using our muscles to move and position ourselves.

Poor posture and a lack of flexibility may be the result of a legitimate medical problem or may be the result of limited stretching and improper body alignment.

When muscles get tight and stay tight, they cease to be elastic and they restrict movement.

That sense of restriction, or stiffness, often leads to disuse. Disuse causes weakness and tightness, which in turn causes a vicious cycle of more disuse, weakness, and tightness.

You have to “lube your chassis” to ensure a smooth ride. Regular stretching activates fluids in your joints, thereby reducing the wear-and-tear caused by friction.

Increased water intake is also believed to contribute to increased mobility for tissues and joints that have become less supple.

Your muscles may also become tight and short due to overuse (resulting in injuries such as tennis elbow or tendonitis) or underuse.

If nothing is done to lengthen stiff and short muscles, they continue to tighten, restricting circulation and impeding the removal of toxins. And a short and tight muscle is more prone to injury. Ouch!

It is easy to take your physical capabilities for granted, until there is a problem.

Your long-term goal should be to maintain your range of motion so that you can continue to accomplish everyday tasks, pain-free.

This goal is totally realistic if you are willing to commit to a regular schedule of careful stretching.

The benefits of a stretching programme will be readily apparent, and you will experience increased comfort as your body moves with fluidity and balance.

The best way to maintain flexibility
Stretching is the best way to maintain muscle and joint flexibility. When you stretch regularly, you will also reduce general muscle tension.

Like aerobic endurance and muscle strength, flexibility provides anti-aging benefits that may keep the 'ol chassis running like new. Stretching should be peaceful, both physically and mentally.

Quiet your mind, breathe deeply, and r-e-l-a-x.

Tips: Stretch every third day for five to ten minutes to keep your muscles supple.

If your muscles are particularly tight, you may want to perform gentle stretching more often.