For many, flexibility is about enjoying life to the fullest. By spending just a few minutes a day increasing your range of motion, you can reduce your risk of injury while exercising, traveling, or playing with your grandchildren. You can feel less stiff and more comfortable doing everyday activities like walking, bending, and driving. You can even improve your posture, circulation, and balance while relieving pain and stress. The key is learning how to increase flexibility safely.
As we age, our muscles naturally become shorter and lose their elasticity. When this happens, you might be tempted to slow down or even give up your regular routines to avoid injuries and falls. However, when the body doesn’t move, it only gets weaker. Stretching on a daily basis is an important part of maintaining your flexibility and strength. It will help offset the effects of normal decline, increase the flexibility of your joints, and help you remain active and independent. In addition, maintaining your flexibility can provide the following benefits:
Reduce Lower Back Pain and Arthritis
Did you know that lower back pain caused by osteoarthritis and spinal stenosis can be managed through stretching exercises? Routine stretching benefits you by relieving stiffness in your afflicted joints and improving your range of motion. If stretching is difficult at first, try warming up stiff muscles prior to stretching with a heat pack. Conversely, cool down your muscles with an ice pack following the exercise to minimize swelling.
Reduce the Risk of Falling
Regular stretching will help improve your balance and stability, which are both key components to preventing falls. Focus on improving flexibility in your hamstrings, quadriceps, lower back, and hip joints. Stretching these areas will help prevent falls and improve healthy aging overall.
Increase Blood Flow and Energy Levels
Increased energy is important to maintaining independence and remaining social. Dynamic stretching is a low-intensity form of stretching that uses movement to stretch your muscles. Dynamic stretches will lengthen your muscles, increase circulation, and increase nutrient flow (boosting the body’s energy levels). Examples of these stretches include arm swings, shoulder circles, and leg swings.
How to Increase Flexibility
Learning how to increase flexibility takes time. To start, go slowly and listen to your body. If one stretch doesn’t seem to be a good fit, try a variation or a different stretch for the same muscle. Never force a stretch. As you improve your flexibility, you’ll be able to reach farther and improve your range of motion.
Other tips to keep in mind while stretching include the following:
- Try warming up by walking in place for five minutes. This will prepare your heart, muscles, and joints for activity.
- Remember that smooth, gentle movements are safer than jerking or bouncing into a stretch.
- Keep breathing. Like your movements, your breath should be slow and steady.
- Don’t lock your joints. If it’s more comfortable, bend your elbows and knees slightly while stretching.
- Aim to stretch 10 to 15 minutes every day. At a minimum, it is good to stretch three days a week.
A Home Health Care Aide Can Help
If you still have questions about how to increase flexibility, you may want to consider assisted stretching with the aid of a home health care professional. As you begin exploring your options, check out what Phoenix Home Care has to offer. We provide many home health services, including those that require the assistance of a medical professional, and we are committed to improving the quality of life of each of our clients. Our dedicated staff would love to help you get back to living the fullest life possible. If you have any questions, leave us a message or call 855-881-7442 to speak with one of our friendly team members. With our help, you will soon be on the journey to a happier, healthier you!