No matter what age you are, exercising is always a positive step towards improving health. There are different types of exercise: aerobic, strength training, stretching and balance. In this post, we are focusing specifically on stretching and range of motion. To find out more about the mechanics of stretching, we got together with CHCS’ physical therapist, Jen Fox, to talk about the importance of staying limber. She explained the body mechanics behind stretching and gave us five, simple exercises that can be done in the home.
When we stretch we lengthen the muscle fibers that move our joints. If our muscles are tight or shortened, then our joints will not be able to maintain their full range of motion. The older we get, the more imperative maintaining flexibility becomes. Maintaining full range of motion is important for continued independence with activities of daily living. In addition, stretching helps keep the muscle itself healthy, which decreases injuries. Finally, regular stretching correlates highly with balance and therefore can reduce the risk of falls!
The following are 5 simple exercises that focus on different areas of the body. Most can be performed while sitting and an alternative leg stretch is shown if sitting balance is diminished. When stretching, one should feel tension and slight discomfort in the muscle, but not pain. Go to the point of tension and hold the stretch steady for 20-30 seconds. When performing range of motion exercises, be sure to move the joint slowly throughout the available range. All exercise should occur on a regular basis of 3-5 times a week. As is true with any exercise program, be sure to consult with your physician or physical therapist before starting a new exercise regimen or if you have any concerns.