What Are the Best Stretches for Senior Citizens?

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Stretching to emphasize flexibility should be part of a comprehensive exercise program. As you age, your joints and muscles can become stiff. Stretching helps to loosen these muscles, reducing pain and inflammation in the body, which is particularly helpful if you suffer from osteoarthritis. As a result of your stretching routine, you might find everyday activities -- such as brushing your hair, walking to get the mail or tying your shoes -- become easier.

Seated Overhead Stretch

This exercise helps stretch the shoulder muscles and can be performed while seated with your feet flat on the floor. Keep your back straight and your arms straight at your sides, slightly bent at the elbows. Maintain straight arms as you lift the arms, first out in front of you, then all the way up toward your head. Hold the top-most position you are able to reach for five seconds, then lower the arms to return to your starting position. Repeat this exercise 10 times.

Calf Stretches

These exercises help work the two calf muscles: the gastrocnemius and the soleus. Stand behind a stable chair or piece of furniture, lightly touching it for balance, then extend your right foot backward. You might want to bend the left knee slightly. Reach the right heel toward the ground, keeping it on the ground if you are flexible enough. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds, then release the stretch. Repeat by stretching the left leg backward, bringing the heel toward the ground. Perform an additional repetition on each side.

Side-to-Side Stretch

The side-to-side stretch helps loosen the back and stomach muscles, which is helpful if you experience back pain. Start by sitting in a chair with your feet shoulder-width apart. Place your hands behind your head with your elbows facing in opposite directions. Slowly bend at your waist to drop your elbow toward your right side, feeling the stretch in your left side. Reverse the motion to go to your opposite side, feeling the stretch in your right abdominal muscle. Repeat this exercise 10 times on each side.

Knee-to-Chest Stretch

This exercise helps relieve knee, quadricep and lower back tightness. Begin by lying on the floor with your legs extended and your arms comfortably at your sides. Pull your right leg in toward your chest, holding on to the leg for 10 to 15 seconds, then release the stretch. Repeat on the left leg, pulling it in as you are able, but do not pull to the point of strain. Repeat five times on each leg.

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