Back pain, arthritis, muscle tightness—these are just a few of the ailments that we complain about as we age. They also happen to be a few of the ailments we can prevent or alleviate by stretching regularly. 

Stretching has a lot of great benefits and should be incorporated into your daily routine. Below are some basic stretches you can use to reduce issues with flexibility and mobility.

**As always, you should consult a medical professional to make sure you are able to undertake physical exercise. Remember not to overstretch to avoid injury, and if you ever feel any physical pain either before or during your exercise, please stop and consult a doctor before continuing.

1. Standing Side Stretch

To start, stand up and place your feet about hip-width apart and make sure you’re balanced. Raise your right arm straight up with your palm facing inward. Lean left and reach your right arm up and to the left, placing your left hand on your left hip for balance support. For a deeper stretch, reach farther left. Repeat these movements with your left arm.

Note: You can also do this stretch while sitting down if you need to. Just be sure you’re in a stable chair that won’t topple over if you stretch too far and lose balance.

2. Shoulder & Upper Back Stretch

This stretch can be done while sitting or standing—whichever is your preference! Reach your right arm across your body, then place your left hand on your right elbow joint and pull your arm closer to your body. For a deeper stretch, rest your right elbow in your left elbow crease and pull your right arm even closer to your body. Repeat on the other side.

3. Neck Rolls

Neck rolls can be done in either a standing or sitting position. Start by looking down and bringing your chin to your chest. From here, tilt your head to the left (or right), then all the way back so you’re looking up, then to the second side. Complete the circle by bringing your chin back to your chest.

You should do a few neck rolls each day to reduce tension. We recommend changing the direction of your circles and going slowly to reduce the risk of injury.

4. Seated Hip Stretch

Hip issues are common as we age because our hips bear the weight of our bodies. Stretching your hips can help with hip tension as well as lower back pain caused by tense hips. To stretch your hips, sit with your feet flat on the ground. From here, cross your right leg over your left, so your right ankle rests on your left quadricep (the top of your thigh). From this position, lean forward and/or to the left to stretch your hip. Repeat on the other side.

5. Cat-Cow

If you’re experiencing back pain or discomfort, then this classic yoga exercise is for you! Start by getting on all fours with your hands just below your shoulders and your knees under your hips. From this position, push your hand against the ground and round your back (like a cat stretching). Hold this position for 1-3 seconds, then reverse the movement to arch your back. Hold your back in an arch position (cow) for 1-3 seconds, then slowly return to a rounded back position. Alternate between the two poses (cat and cow) for about 30 seconds. 

6. Posterior Leg Stretch

If your hamstrings or calves are tight, then sit down on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Simply bend and reach for your toes to feel a stretch in your hamstrings. To stretch your calves more, focus on flexing your feet and pulling your toes toward your body. 

7. Butterfly Stretch

While sitting on the floor, pull your legs in and sit so that your knees are out to the side and the bottoms of your feet are touching. Stretch your groin and hips by pulling your feet in closer to your body or pushing your knees down closer to the ground. Take a deep breath and enjoy the stretch! The butterfly stretch is a great stretch to improve flexibility.

8. Quadriceps Stretch 

For the quadriceps stretch, you’ll need to stand back upright. You can hold onto a sturdy surface for support if needed. Shift your weight onto one leg while bending the knee of the opposite leg, bringing your heel towards your buttocks. With the hand on the same side as the bent leg, gently grasp the ankle or foot, guiding it closer to the buttocks until you feel a gentle stretch in the front of the thigh. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds. Then, switch legs and repeat with the opposite foot.

9. Overhead Side Stretch

Continue to stand up straight for the starting position of the overhead side stretch. Lift both your arms overhead and interlace your fingers. Keep your abdominal muscles taut as you slowly lean to your left side and hold for 15 seconds. Then, move back toward the center and repeat on the right side.

10. Chair stretches

Many of these stretches can be modified as a chair stretch for greater ease, comfort, and safety. For example, you can modify the overhead side stretch by just staying seated on a chair. Chair exercises can be a wonderful way for seniors with mobility issues to stay active.

Video Guides for Stretching Exercises

Looking for more exercises or someone who can guide you through your stretching routine? Check out these great videos that guide you through stretches for seniors:

These stretching exercises, alongside low-impact exercises, are great for seniors and those who are new to exercising and want to get into more physical activity. No matter where you’re at in your health and fitness journey, lean on your friends and. community for support along the way!

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