Most people know that they should be consistent with a regular exercise schedule. Maintaining this movement can bring a long list of benefits to your life. In addition to cardio and weight lifting, make sure you are balancing it out with stretching as well.
What do you think about when you hear the terms “stretching” or “flexibility?” Often, these phrases bring images to mind of yoga poses or people in tip-top shape. The truth is that people of all shapes, sizes, and fitness levels can benefit from flexibility.
Why Stretching is Important
Your goal for stretching isn’t necessarily about doing the splits or touching your toes. Instead, the purpose of these exercises is to support your balance and body structure.
As you are working to build strength, stretching supports the overall results you can achieve. Here are a few benefits you can expect from a regular stretching routine:
- Maintain good balance in daily activities
- Reduce the risk of training injuries
- Improve your range of motion
- Decrease chronic pain
- Optimize muscle strength
- Protect joint and muscle health
- Boost fitness performance
- Maintain a youthful appearance
- Enjoy independence in the later years of life
You might not notice immediate benefits from a single stretching session. But consistency with this routine has an undeniable impact on your overall performance and fitness.
Maintaining Flexibility with Age
Even though bodies start to degenerate with age, it doesn’t mean that you can’t maintain strength and flexibility as you are getting older. Aging causes different issues, such as a reduction in skin elasticity, stiffer tendons, a loss of muscle tone, and decrease in bone density. All of these issues can be contributing factors that result in a loss of flexibility.
Usually, flexibility problems are noticed in the shoulders and hips first. These parts of the body start to tighten up, and can have a domino effect on other movements throughout the body. These issues become more noticeable with age because flexibility issues contribute to chronic pains and aches.
If you are proactive with maintaining flexibility in your younger years, then it’s easier to keep this routine as you age. Don’t worry if you don’t already have a good flexibility routine. You can add these practices into your routine at any point.
Inactivity with age compounds problems in the body. For example, if you aren’t exercising or maintaining a good stretching routine, then you will notice more problems in the body. Seniors who are proactive about fitness and stretching tend to have better mobility and healthier bodies overall.
Tips for Improving Your Flexibility
How flexible are you right now? If you want to increase your flexibility, then we recommend that you talk to a fitness expert for personalized advice. Remember that a few small changes can have a noticeable impact on your overall flexibility. Here are a few things that you can do to improve the results you get from a regular stretching routine:
- Start Slow: Stretching should be a gentle exercise. Don’t set expectations about how far you should be able to stretch. Instead, be slow and deliberate in your movements to listen to the cues in your body. Find your “edge” – the point where you can feel the stretch without causing any pain or discomfort.
- Try Variations: There are many ways to stretch the same muscle groups. Switch things up by trying different types of stretches. Avoid following the same routine. Variety works the muscles in unique ways and helps by decreasing the risk of injury.
- Warm Up the Muscles: While stretching is a form of warmup, many people find benefit by moving their muscles gently before stretching. For example, walk for 5 or 10 minutes before stretching your leg muscles.
- Don’t Jerk or Bounce: Stretching should be a still, slow movement. It’s safer to stick with smooth, easy motions when you are stretching. Never jerk or bounce to try to get deeper into the stretch.
- Focus on Your Breathing: Don’t hold your breath when you are holding a stretch. Instead, visualize your breathing moving into the part of the body that you are stretching. When you continue to breathe, it helps you relax a little more so you can get a better stretch.
- Stay Consistent with Your Routine. Make a promise to yourself to maintain a stretching routine. Ideally, you should set aside 10 to 15 minutes for stretching. Hold each stretch for 20 or 30 seconds before moving onto another stretching position. Be consistent about stretching at least 3 to 4 times per week.
- Apply Localized Heat: Are there parts of your body that are painful or tight to stretch? You might find it beneficial to place a heating pad on that part of the body before stretching. The heat helps to loosen up the muscles.
- Pay Attention to Your Body: Watch for signs that stretching is having a positive impact on your health and wellness. Over time, these habits can significantly improve how you are feeling.
Stretching Helps Active Adults Maintain a Thriving Lifestyle
Many seniors are worried about losing their independence and mobility because of physical issues. If you are proactive about stretching, then this habit can be one of the most important things that protects your physical wellness.
Aging adults can often find relief from chronic pain, back issues, and arthritis with a regular stretching routine. Additionally, good flexibility is essential because it decreases the risk of falling. Make sure you are proactive about maintaining flexibility in the hamstrings, hip joints, and quadriceps.
One final benefit of stretching for aging adults is that flexibility plays a role in good posture. Stretching loosens the muscles, tendons, and ligaments, which has a positive impact on the overall alignment of your spine and other bones in the body.
Find Your Fitness Tribe
Are you looking for a way to stay consistent in your fitness and stretching routine? Then it’s helpful to have a fitness community to help you stay on track with your goals. When you need a local gym, Fitness Nation is a great option to consider. We offer quality equipment and comfortable facilities to support your exercise goals.