Stretching Exercises for Seniors

Do you find that simple tasks such as getting out of a chair or reaching for items on a shelf are becoming increasingly more difficult as you get older? You’re not alone. Muscles and tendons can become stiffer and less flexible as we age, especially if you’re not getting regular exercise and stretching. The good news is, these stretching exercises for seniors can help improve your flexibility making day-to-day tasks much easier!

Seniors should stretch the major muscle groups daily to help improve overall flexibility. Stretching doesn’t have to be complicated either. Make it simple by stretching some muscle groups in the morning and others at night. You can even stretch sitting in your chair while watching TV! If you’re ready to improve and maintain your flexibility then check out these 10 stretching exercises.

The Benefits of Stretching for Seniors

So why do we stretch? Healthline explains, “Stretching allows for greater movement in joints and improves posture. It also helps to release muscle tension and soreness, and reduces the risk of injury.” It may also help improve balance and coordination.

It would be a great idea to implement simple stretching exercises into your daily routine to help maintain flexibility. Always remember stretching should never cause pain and you should immediately stop the stretch if it does produce pain. Now, let’s explore 10 stretching exercises for seniors!

seniors stretching on the floor

Thigh Stretch

Leg stretches are essential for keeping your leg muscles healthy, flexible, and strong. There are many different stretches you can do to benefit the legs but we’re going to focus on two thigh stretches, a quadriceps stretch, and a hamstring stretch. Both are essential thigh stretches that help maintain your muscles for things like walking and standing.

First, the hamstring stretch will stretch the muscles on the back of your thigh. Preventing tight hamstrings can help relieve lower back pain and help with walking. Begin by lying on your back on a cushioned mat. Next, extend one leg in the air while keeping the other on the ground. Place your hands on the back of your thigh and begin to slowly pull your leg towards you until you feel the stretch. Slowly release and repeat with the other leg.

senior woman doing thigh stretch

Quadricep Stretch

The next leg exercise you should try is a quadriceps stretch. This is a thigh exercise that stretches the muscles on the front of your thigh. These are important muscles used for standing and walking.

Begin by lying on your side on a cushioned mat. Next, bend your knee and bring your foot behind you. Use your hand to pull your foot towards your body until you can feel the stretch. If you can’t reach your foot, then wrap a towel around your foot and grasp the ends of the towel with your hand to pull your foot towards you. Then lie on your opposite side and repeat with the other leg.

A quick tip: if you have good balance you can perform this stretch standing.

Quadricep Stretch

Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch

The kneeling hip flexor stretch is great for seniors, especially if you spend a lot of time sitting down. stretching this area will help you maintain good posture and a good walking stride.

Begin by kneeling on the floor and place a rolled-up towel or blanket under your knees if you need the support. Next, step your left foot forward creating a 90-degree angle with your left leg, and keep your right shin on the floor behind you.

Place both hands on your left knee, and then begin to sink your body. You should feel the stretch in your right hip, right quadriceps, and hamstring. Slowly release the stretch and then repeat with the opposite side.

Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch

Hip Stretch

Did you know that nearly one in four adults over the age of 60 will experience hip pain? Some of the common causes of hip pain include arthritis, tendonitis, injury, or tension from muscle strain. Thankfully, there are a variety of exercises and stretches for relieving hip pain.

Begin by lying on your back. We recommend using a cushioned mat, soft carpeted area or lay on your bed for support. Next, bring one knee out to the side of your body and rest your foot on the opposite leg. Then, gently push down on the bent knee until you begin to feel the stretch in your hip. Return to a neutral position and repeat on the opposite side.

Hip stretch for hip pain

Lower Back Stretch

Suffering from lower back pain is not fun and can prevent you from doing things you love. There are several causes of lower back pain in seniors from injury to sleeping on a bad mattress to decreased flexibility. Thankfully there are a variety of exercises that help strengthen your lower back as well stretches for lower back pain that you can start doing to get some relief!

This lower back stretch is great for maintaining mobility in your spine which in turn, will promote good posture. Begin by lying on your back on a cushioned mat. Bend your knees and keep your feet together, flat on the floor.

Next, keep your knees together as you lower your legs to one side. Then, twist your torso until you feel the stretch. Hold the stretch for a few seconds before slowly returning to the starting position. Finally, repeat on the other side.

Lower Back Stretch

Ankle Stretch

Stretching your ankles regularly is important for maintaining flexibility in the ankles. This is important for being able to do perform activities like walking as well as standing up and sitting down.

To stretch your ankles, begin by sitting in a sturdy chair. Slowly move your foot up and down and side to side. To really feel the stretch, try to hold each position for about 30 seconds and then repeat with the opposite foot.

Ankle Stretch

Neck Stretch

Dealing with a neck strain can be quite painful and this is why maintaining mobility in the neck is of the utmost importance. Mobility in the neck is also important for maintaining good posture and for activities like driving.

To stretch your neck, bring your chin toward your chest. Then, slowly turn your head to one side, holding the position for about 10 to 15-seconds. Return your head to the center and then repeat on the other side.

Neck Stretch

Arm Raises

Arm raises are a great exercise that can help improve the range of motion in your shoulders. They’re also beneficial for strengthening your arms which is important for activities such as reaching overhead.

Start by standing with your arms at your sides and make sure you relax your shoulders. Next, take a deep breath in while simultaneously lifting both arms overhead. Exhale and bring your arms back down. Try to repeat for 10 repetitions.

A quick tip: Make sure you don’t arch your back when raising your arms and instead, stand up tall. Only raise your arms as far as you can do so comfortably. Each time you practice this exercise you can try to reach a little higher.

Shoulder Circles

Shoulder circles will help improve the range of motion in your shoulder as well as your upper back. Strengthing this area is important for reaching and for simple activities like getting dressed.

Begin by sitting up tall in a sturdy chair. Next, place your fingertips to your shoulders and begin to circle your shoulders forward 15 times. Then circle backward for another 15 times.

Shoulder and Arm Stretch

This is a great exercise that stretches both your arms and your shoulders simultaneously. You can perform this stretch standing or seated at the edge of a chair — your choice!

Begin by holding a towel in one hand. Lift the towel over your head and allow it to drape down behind your back. Next, grab the other end of the towel using your other hand and then gently pull down on the towel until you feel the stretch in your arm and shoulder.

Hold this stretch for a few deep breaths. Finally, repeat with the opposite side.

Shoulder and Arm Stretch

Chest Stretch

If you have poor posture, the muscles in your chest can become tight. Stretching your chest can help open the muscles and in turn, can help with posture.

To stretch your chest, begin by extending both arms to the sides and face your palms forward. Next, begin to reach back with your hands until you can feel the stretch across the front of your arms and your chest.

A quick tip: if suspending your arms in the air is difficult, then you can use a wall for support. Put your hand on the wall and then step forward until you feel the stretch.

senior woman stretching chest

Clarissa Vanner

Clarissa Vanner

Clarissa is the Junior Managing Editor of ActiveBeat. She aspires to live a healthy lifestyle by staying active and eating foods that nourish her body, but she isn't afraid to indulge in a little chocolate here and there! Clarissa loves cooking, being outdoors, and spending time with her dog. In her free time, you'll find her relaxing in her hammock or curled up on the couch reading a book.

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