“You’re only as young as your spine is flexible.”
– Joseph Pilates
Did you just grunt getting out of that chair? Probably. Can you really bend over and pick up that pin off the floor? No, you had to stoop down, right?
As we age, our body’s water content in connective tissue, such as ligaments and tendons, decreases, resulting in reduced elasticity and flexibility. In other words, we move around like old people.
Not to worry, these are early signs of natural rigidity setting into our joints but with dedicated routines, they can be reversed and you can be flexible and supple deep into your older years for added juice in your life.
Why Flexibility is Important as we age
Today, middle-age to senior people are aware of the importance of aerobic exercise, they may even incorporate regular strength training. But most people are unaware of the incredible importance of flexibility training, especially as we age.
If one does absolutely nothing in regard to flexibility they will lose over 30% of their range of motion by the age of 60. So What? Well, this leads directly to poor posture, more pulled muscles, and loss of balance. Plus you want to be able to squeeze into that tiny sports car, right?
Stretching reduces the risk of falling
The risk of falling is a major concern for older adults. Each year one out of three older adults will fall and need treatment in emergency facility. Research as show that regular sessions of stretching are critical to balance and stability helping prevent against such falls.
When to Stretch
Don’t have the time to incorporate stretching into your day? Then, how about the time you may spend lying flat in bed with a back spasm? Didn’t plan on that, right? It’s all about the ounce of prevention.
Make stretching a daily habit but break it up into chunks. Upon waking in the morning make a big yawn and stretch. Build in triggers in your day to remind you to stretch. We recommend doing about 4-5 stretch poses just before your morning meditation, what a way to jump start your mind-body connection.
First, we recommend highly that you visit a gym or YMCA and enroll in a formal class to get proper stretching techniques down. Perhaps you can ask them to test your current range of motion so you have goals to strive for.
With that said, you can started right now with these simple to use stretches that cover the important muscles and joints:
While regular stretching is a great way to help manage low back pain and arthritis, improve posture, reduce falls, and increase energy levels, there are additional exercises that will aid in healthy aging.
The 500 lb. gorilla of healthy flexibility is yoga. This remarkable form of fitness not only incorporates full body flexibility, but it also directly improves strength, balance, breathing, and calmness of the mind, it doesn’t get any better than this.
In addition you can advance your flexibility with other classes:
- Tai chi
- Lotte Berk Method
- Water Therapy
In conclusion, don’t delay, get started on your stretching program today to maintain vigor as you age.