Stretching is one of those things that we are told is extremely good for us and will benefit us later in life, and yet most of us still ignore. Whether it’s stretches before workout, stretches before bed, stretches when you wake up, too many of us don’t find the time to include stretching into our daily routine.
Regular stretching becomes more important as we age in order to avoid injury and to maintain mobility. While fifty is not old by any means, it’s a good age to start getting serious about stretches. Next Avenue has some great ones to get you started and that benefit a wide variety of body parts you’ll need to watch out for.
**Remember, not all exercises are sutiable for everyone. Due to health conditions or physical capabilities you may want to consult medical professions before trying any of these stretches. Stretches should never be painful and you should only do what you are comfortable with.**
1. Arm Opener
Benefits: Arms, chest, and shoulders
This first stretch might seem like it’s turning you into a pretzel, but remember, you only go as far as you feel comfortable going. While holding your arms together behind your back as far from your tailbone as you can slowly fold your arms and bring them up as close to the back of your neck as you can. Do the same thing on both of your sides, stopping when you feel the stretch. This will help prevent injuries from overreaching or stiff arm movements.
2. Chin Drop
Benefits: Neck and shoulders
This stretch can help with those pesky neck pains as well as help to relieve tension headaches. Place your left hand on your shoulder, just to the left of your neck, then with your right, gently you’re your head towards you left knee while keeping you back straight. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat twice more, then do the same for the other side.
Benefits: Hips, hamstrings, and lower back
Have trouble bending, or find your hips often in pain? This is the stretch for you. With your both feet together flat on the ground, slowly bend forward at your waist and walk your hands down your legs, as low as it feels comfortable. Then alternate bending one knee and keeping the other leg straight (but still keeping your feet flat) and let your head dangle down, releasing all your tension. Stretch each side for 15 seconds. If one side is tighter stay there longer to maintain muscle balance.
4. Hula Hoop
Benefits: Hips and mobility
An oldie but a goody. Another one that’s great for your hips and will help keep your movements from tightening up on you. Just like with a hula hoop, circle your hips five times in both directions. Remember to avoid moving anything but your hips.
5. Overhead Triceps Stretch
From a standing position, extend you left elbow above you left shoulder, then grab that elbow with you right hand, pulling it back and across until you feel the stretch. Hold for 30 seconds then repeat on the opposite side. This is a great way to maintain mobility in you arms.
6. Yo Yo
Benefits: Spine and posture
With your hands on your hips and your feet planted, swing your body to your right then to your left in a slow, gentle motion. There should be no pain involved, just gentle motions that help strengthen your spin and keep a good posture.
7. 90 Lat Stretch
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your arms on a stable surface. Pull your shoulder blades down and back. Keep your chest lifted and your chin tilted up slightly. With a slight bend in your knees, shift your weight over your heels and slowly begin bending forward at the hips. Keep your abdominals braced and your back flat. Place your hands on the table. Keep your arms straight so there is a line from the shoulders, through the elbows to the wrists. With your hands on the table, keep your legs directly under your hips. Lean back into your hips, straighten your legs and draw your body toward the ground, maintaining a flat back. Keep your chin tucked into your neck to stabilize your spine and to keep your head from dropping towards the floor. Hold the stretch position for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat two to four times.
8. Quad Pull
Benefits: Thighs and flexibility
Missing some of that flexibility of your youth? Try this stretch to regain movement in your joints. Stand with your feet together and arms at your sides. Put your right hand on a wall or table for support, then balance on your right leg and bend your left knee back, bringing up your left foot until you can grab the ankle with your left hand. Maintain a straight line from the top of your head to your tailbone. Keep your chest lifted and take five deep breaths, then switch sides.