The benefits of stretching have become fairly well-known in more recent years. There is a time period, however, when these benefits were not commonly known or talked about. That time period is one in which many of our elderly friends and neighbors grew up. The benefits of hard work & fiscal responsibility were talked about a great deal, but care for the muscles of one’s body was not thought of as important. In this article, we’ll lay out 5 reasons why we should stretch & any specific benefits to the elderly from this effort in hopes that you’ll be able to benefit from the stretches yourself & also explain to an elderly friend why it’s so important.
- Stretching improves your body’s circulation. Even if a person stretches for no other reason, this reason should be enough! Improved circulation can benefit an individual in a number of ways. It protects against blood clots, helps maintain vitality & functionality of extremities, helps maintain your body’s temperature, etc. If your blood is not able to move freely throughout the muscles of your body, your body cannot perform as well as if it has constant, sufficient blood flow. Begin with stretching large muscle groups & be sure that any knots that you find in the muscles through this process are worked out of the muscles through stretching & massage. You’ll be able to feel the difference when blood is moving freely vs. when it is inhibited.
- Stretching builds strength. Some people wonder how stretching can build strength. Isn’t it just a few movements that make your muscles feel a bit better? It is, yet if you do those stretches regularly enough, you build more muscle over time. Think about the muscles that are pulled at during stretching. While you are stretching those muscles, many other muscles are put to the test in order to form resistance to stretch against. One group gets stretched & improved blood flow, another group gets worked out at the same time. It is a win-win situation!
- Stretching improves flexibility. Because the water levels in our body often decrease with age, the joints & ligaments in our body can tend to become dehydrated & thus stiff. Hydrate first, then stretch, then hydrate again. Joint & ligament stiffness can be greatly improved by those simple steps. Many people like to skip the hydration step, because if you hydrate often, you also need to visit the bathroom often, but it is tremendously important to good health. Stretching will be greatly aided by hydration & your joints will thank you!
- Stretching improves your range of motion. It may not be by much at first, but if you keep at it, stretching can help a great deal. Being able to bend down and touch the floor without becoming unbalanced is a very difficult thing for most elderly individuals. After stretching for several months consecutively, you may find this much easier. Your risk of falling decreases while your range of motion & flexibility increases. This alone is a reasonable justification to make stretching a part of your daily routine at least a few times a day.
- Stretching improves your posture. We tend to shrink or slouch downward and inward as we age. Stretching promotes the movement of our bodies upward and outward. This is important for our core to be healthy. Think of all of the internal organs that are housed in your core. If they are all smashed together as you slouch in your chair, they will all be compromised! Lungs crushed together with your diaphragm & stomach cannot fully expand & thus your breath will be inhibited. If your bladder is squeezed somewhere in between, it’s capacity is diminished. Heartburn is more likely to occur. Stretching along with core building exercises will help keep that posture in good shape so that you can sit comfortably without slouching & receive the full benefit from a body that is functioning properly.
This is quite obviously not a comprehensive list of the benefits of stretching, but regardless of whether all of the benefits are listed, you ought to be able to see that it is an excellent routine to build into your day. Check online to find specific videos that help elderly patients to stretch safely, especially if falling is a concern. There are a number that start people stretching in chairs so that they can receive the benefits without the risk.