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Stretching Exercises For Seniors and Elderly Adults

Stretching can help improve posture, promote flexibility, and reduce pain. Get on the move with these stretching exercises for seniors.

Stretching for Seniors

Stretches for elderly adults can involve a few health risks, and you should always take the proper precautions beforehand. Here are a few guidelines to follow before starting any new exercise.

  • Get approval from your medical provider before beginning basic stretching exercises for seniors.
  • Move slowly at first and listen to your body. Not every exercise is for every person.
  • Walk in place for five minutes before starting. This will prepare your heart and joints for what’s to come.
  • Use smooth, gentle movements and do not force yourself into a stretch if your body is not responding.
  • Don’t lock your joints. Bend your arms and knees if it feels more comfortable.
  • Breathe slowly and steadily. Don’t hold your breath.

Make a goal to stretch three days a week for about 15 minutes each session. Stretch out each muscle group for 3-5 minutes. This simple stretching routine for seniors can improve your overall health.

Gentle Stretches for Seniors

Here are a few simple stretching exercises for seniors.

Lower Body
  • Quadriceps: While standing or lying on the floor, bend your knee and bring your foot up toward your backside using your hand. Gently grab your ankle or foot to point your knee toward the floor. You should feel a stretch in the front of your thigh. Repeat with the other foot. If necessary, grab a wall for support.
  • Calves: Place your feet a shoulder width apart and while facing a little farther than arms-length from a wall, put your palms against the wall at shoulder height and a shoulder-width apart. Step forward with one leg and bend the knee. Keep both feet firmly on the floor and bend the opposite knee to feel a stretch in your calf.
  • Hips: Stand about a foot away from a wall with your right side facing the wall. Cross your left leg over your right leg and bring your hip in toward the wall. Hold for 10-20 seconds. Repeat with opposite leg.
Upper Body
  • Triceps: Bend your elbow behind your head and put the opposite hand on the elbow. Gently pull the elbow in to feel a stretch in your back arm. Switch arms and repeat.
  • Chest and shoulders: Grasp your hands behind you and gently raise them to feel a stretch in your chest or shoulder area.
  • Upper arms and shoulders: Place your feet a shoulder-width apart. Drape a towel over your shoulder. Grab both ends of the towel, using one hand to pull it over your neck and the opposite hand to pull it along your lower back. Switch it up and repeat.

Seated Stretches for Seniors

For some older adults, it can be best to perform stretches while in a seated position. Here are a few seated stretching exercises for seniors.

  • Hamstrings: Sit on a chair with another chair across from you. Stretch one leg out onto the opposite chair with your toes facing upward while keeping the opposite foot placed firmly on the floor. Bend forward from the hips, reaching for your toes, until you feel a stretch in the back of your leg. To stretch both legs at the same time, perform this exercise while seated on the ground.
  • Head: Turn your head to look over your shoulder and then slowly drop your chin and circle your head around to look over the opposite shoulder. Repeat by circling your head back to its original side.
  • Ankle circles: Lift your foot off the ground and rotate your ankle clockwise and then counter-clockwise. Repeat with opposite foot.
  • Shoulders: Bend your elbows and rotate your shoulders backward in a circular motion. Repeat by bending the shoulders forward
  • Spine: With your feet flat on the floor and arms crossing your chest, twist your body to one side. Repeat with the opposite side.