Why are daily stretches important for over 60s?

And how often should one do them?
by Lynne Cantwell, Consultant Physiotherapist. 22nd August 2018

Literature strongly suggests that the greatest threat to the health of the ageing body is not the ageing process itself but rather inactivity. Per-Olof Åstrand concurs with this and states that ‘there is less risk in activity than in continuous inactivity’.

The structural and physiological affects of ageing occur by people having:

  • a reduced capacity to build muscle
  • stiffness in tendons and joints for various reasons
  • balance changes

Regular exercise will have excellent benefits to slow the changes mentioned above, reduce aches & pains and maintain the body at a healthy level of function.

Stretching is a useful way to help maintain range of motion and flexibility in muscles. Stretching can be done in a static form or done through dynamic movements. Daily movements ensure continued fluidity in joints and muscles, hence avoiding stiffness which can increase the risk of injury and pain.

The best approach is to choose an exercise that mobilises each key joint in the body (if not multiple) and incorporates each direction:

  • Body weight squats x 15 repetitions x 3 sets – mobilises the ankles, knees and hip joints while stretching calves.
  • Arm Circles or Shoulder Retractions help to keep your mid back loose, while circulating your shoulder joints.
  • Ensure to move and stretch in the front plane eg. Forward lunge
  • Side to side plane eg. Arms out to side
  • Rotation is important too eg. Lie on your back with knees bent and rolling your knees from side to side

Aim to stretch and move for either 15-20 mins per day or 30-40 mins x 4-5 times per week.

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