HEALTHY AGING: MAINTAINING YOUR MOBILITY
Maintain your mobility as you age with these stretches & exercises
Over the years, you can develop habitual ways of using your muscles to move and position yourself. Poor posture and a lack of flexibility may be the result of limited stretching and improper body alignment. With age, your muscles naturally tighten which can lead to poor posture1 and back pain. So, if you’re an older adult, it has never been more important to incorporate stretching and exercise into your daily routine in an effort to aid in good back health. You may already be doing stretches, but as you age it’s important to modify your stretch to minimize your chance of falling while performing them.
Here are three safe techniques older adults can utilize to keep limber:
Upper Body Stretch
Stand slightly further than arm’s length from a wall, facing towards it with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lean forward placing the palms of your hands against the wall, facing upwards. Slowly walk your hands up the wall until they are above your head, focusing on keeping your back straight.
Repetition: Hold the position for 10 to 30 seconds. Slowly walk your hands back down the wall. Repeat at least 3 to 5 more times2.
Lower Back Stretch
First, lie on your back with your legs together, knees bent, and feet flat on the floor. Try to keep both arms and shoulders flat on the floor throughout the stretch. Keeping knees bent and together, slowly lower both legs to one side as far as you comfortably can.
Repetition: Hold position for 10 to 30 seconds. Bring legs back up slowly and repeat toward other side. Continue alternating sides for at least 3 to 5 times on each side3.
Sit securely towards the edge of an armless chair with your legs stretched out in front of you. With your hands holding the sides of the seat of the chair for support, keep your heels on the floor while bending your ankles to point your toes to the sky.
Repetition: Hold the position for 10 to 30 seconds then release. Repeat 3 to 5 times4.
Provided by Dr. Luciano Di Loreto, HBSc., D.C. & Associates
BUILDING YOUR CORE
Build your core so your back is not sore. You often hear about the importance of strengthening your core. This is true and important, but it is recommended for many reasons over and over just achieving your dream body.
Many people have back pain and this can sometimes be caused by weak abdominal muscles. In fact, developing strong abdominal muscles may actually help prevent back pain by enabling proper spinal alignment, making you less prone to back injuries. Your abs anchor your frontal core, and if they are weak, the other structures supporting your spine, such as back muscles, will have to work harder. By developing stronger core muscles, you’ll be less likely to injure or strain your back muscles.
Below are three exercises that help build your core, so your back’s not sore.
Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you and feet turned out, toes pointed. Contract your core muscles and roll your shoulders forward creating a curve in your back. Lift and move arms in succession as if you were climbing a rope, twisting your core slightly with each reach. Repeat 20 times.
Start in a plank position with abs tight. Pull right knee in and circle it clockwise, then counterclockwise. Keep the rest of your body stationary. Repeat five times and then switch legs.
Sit with knees bent and feet on floor. (A) Straighten right leg. Roll spine into a C-curve. Place left hand behind head and extend right arm. (B) Twist body to the left, roll back a bit more (and hold for one count), then come up. Do five reps and then switch sides.
Try these exercises to help tone your core, three to four times per week for about 15 minutes. Your back will thank you.
Provided by Dr. Luciano Di Loreto, HBSc., D.C. & Associates
I came across a great article today that I believe everyone can benefit from especially desk workers. We know sitting at a desk all day can be pretty bad for us. But not everyone has a company gym membership or a work schedule that allows for morning and afternoon fitness classes. So here are six stretches that loosen the muscles made most stiff by sitting. No gym equipment or extended lunch hours required!
1. Neck and Shoulders. Hunching over keyboards strains the cervical spine and stiffens our shoulders. On the next bathroom break, reach your arms behind you, and interlock your fingers so that your palms face. Lift your arms so you feel a stretch in your chest and front shoulders. Draw your chin down to avoid crunching the neck. (Of course, feel free to do this at your desk. Tell anyone who gawks to follow suit.)
2. Hip Flexors & Iliopsoas. These muscle groups are at an especially high risk of tightening after long days at a desk. Here’s a morning stretch to keep ‘em lengthy. Kneel on the floor (top of the shins and feet as your base, torso straight). Pick up your left leg and place the left foot on the floor, keeping the knee directly above ankle. Keep both hips horizontally aligned as you move your torso toward the wall in front of you, gliding the knee forward. You may feel a stretch in your calf and Achilles. Place the hands on the top of the left thigh for support. Hold for 30 second. Switch sides. Repeat.
3. Abdominals. Reach your arms above you and lean slightly back so your chest and throat point towards the sky. If you have difficulty balancing, keep your gaze forward or down to the floor. Repeat on the other side.
4. Obliques. From the original hip flexor stretch (low lunge, left foot forward, right knee and shin on the floor) reach your left arm to your side and touch the fingers to the floor or stack of books for support. Curve your right arm over your head reaching the right fingertips over the left side of your body. Hold for 20 seconds. Breathe. See if you can stretch a bit further, then return to a straight spine. Switch legs and repeat on the other side.
5. Lower Back & Lats. Sitting for too long rounds out our spine in all the wrong places. The muscles surrounding the lumbar spine get particularly weak while the hamstrings can go slack. Lie on your stomach on the floor or on a mat. Hard version: Lift your legs off the floor. Easy version: Keep the legs on the floor. Bend your elbows and interlock your fingertips behind your neck (thumbs on either side of your neck, pointing towards your upper back). Lift your chin, look ahead. Inhale while lifting your torso as far off the floor as you can, albeit gently, by tightening the muscles along your spine. Lower down on an exhale. Repeat 10 to 15 times.
Now bend your knees and sit back on your heels (tops of the feet still touching the floor). Rest your torso on your thighs and your forehead on the floor or a pillow. Reach your arm out in front of you, walk the fingertips forward and retract the shoulder blades down the back. Keep your butt on your heels as you pick up your forehead and walk your hands over to the left, then to the right to throw in a lat stretch.
6. Whole Back/Spine & Hamstrings. De-stress your spine after it’s been chair-bound all day. Lie on your back, feet on the floor, knees bent. Draw both knee to chest and gently rock. Then extend the left leg straight on the floor as you keep the right knee hugged towards the chest. Take a few breaths here and enjoy the hamstring stretch. Then, keep your right shoulder on the floor and guide the right knee across the midline of your body, towards the floor, with your left hand. It’s okay if your knee doesn’t touch the floor. Stop if you feel any pain at all. After 30 seconds, draw that knee back to center. Switch legs and repeat on the other side.