Exercise is an excellent way for older adults to stay active, fit, and healthy, allowing them to go about their daily activities with ease. In particular, low-intensity activities like morning stretches for seniors are among the best exercises for older people, offering several physical and emotional benefits. Individuals experiencing discomfort in their body parts can practice stretching exercises during the morning to relieve pain in the joints and muscles.
Here are some easy stretches for seniors that can be helpful for individuals of all ages. However, it’s important to remember that before engaging in any new exercises, it’s best to consult with your doctor beforehand. This article covers six efficient morning stretches that are great for older adults.
Best Morning Stretches for Seniors
- Overhead Triceps Stretch
The overhead triceps stretch is one of the best morning stretches for the shoulders. It can be performed while standing or sitting tall in a chair. This exercise helps improve arm mobility, lengthen muscles, improve range of motion and increase the flexibility of the shoulders.
To perform the overhead triceps stretch, follow these steps:
- Stand straight or sit tall with the feet slightly apart.
- Raise your right hand towards the ceiling, and slowly bring the right hand to rest at the back of your head.
- Ensure your elbow is facing up while the arm is bent.
- Grab your right elbow with your left hand and gently pull your right elbow towards your head while applying slight pressure.
- More flexible persons can slightly pull their arm towards the back of the head. Doing this will cause slight pressure on the arm.
- Hold the position for about 20 to 30 seconds before releasing.
- Repeat the process for the other arm.
- Soleus Stretch
This exercise focuses on the legs. The soleus is the leg’s area directly below the back of the knee, and it has two main functions — to act as a muscle pump and as a skeletal muscle.
Performing the soleus stretch targets the muscles on the back of this lower region of the leg. Anyone engaging in this physical activity will require a wall, table, railing, or sturdy chair to rest their hands against.
To practice the soleus stretch:
- Stand about one meter from the wall, table, or any support, and place both hands on the support.
- Ensure your hands are spaced about a shoulder-width apart, and gently lean towards the wall.
- Extend the right leg towards the wall while keeping the left leg at the back in a slant position.
- Lean toward the wall, with the hips getting as close to the wall as possible.
- Continue to lean towards the wall until you feel some tension in the calf region of the leg being stretched.
- Remain in place for about 20 to 30 seconds, and repeat the routine for the other leg.
- Neck Stretch
Stretches for seniors target specific body muscles, and one that focuses on the neck region is the neck stretch. This exercise enhances neck mobility, improves breathing, and releases tension and stiffness. It helps older adults who drive in looking in different directions.
Here’s how to engage in this exercise:
- Stand tall, ensuring your back is straight and your head is aligned correctly.
- Gently tilt your head towards your right shoulder, ensuring your right ear touches your right shoulder.
- Bring your right hand above your head and carefully pull your head towards your right shoulder.
- Reach for your right ear as close as possible.
- Hold your head against your right shoulder for about 30 seconds before releasing your head.
- Repeat this process for the left shoulder and make about 3 repetitions for each shoulder.
- Sphinx Pose
The sphinx pose is one of the best morning exercises for seniors. It’s a gentle backbend pose that stretches the back and strengthens the spine.
When practicing the sphinx pose, the forearms and elbows support the body weight while one is lying flat on the floor. This exercise enhances the mobility of the back muscles and spine. Note that this stretch can be done on the floor, mat, or bed, depending on your choice.
Follow these steps to perform this routine:
- Lie flat on your belly with your back raised and elbows bent to support your body.
- Ensure your legs are uniformly stretched, with your feet maintaining a straight position.
- Slowly lift your chest and upper body from the bed, mat, or floor.
- While doing this, your feet and body’s lower region should be as straight as possible.
- Remain steady in that stretched position for about 30 to 60 seconds.
- Repeat the steps about 2 to 3 times.
- Ankle Rotation
Ankle rotation involves stretching the feet and making circles around the ankles slowly and gently. This exercise opens up the ankle joints, providing more balance and support in older adults.
Lower body workouts like the ankle rotation can positively affect other muscle groups since the legs are a base for the entire body. Note that ankle rotation can be done while standing, sitting, or lying down.
- Stand upright or sit tall, and stretch out one leg before you.
- Gently rotate your ankles clockwise and then anti-clockwise.
- Make the same ankle movement for the outstretched feet.
- Switch legs and repeat the steps.
While rotating the ankle, older adults should start with slow circular movements. Afterward, they can slowly increase the diameter and pace of the circle. If one experiences pain when practicing this exercise.
- Trunk Stretch
The trunk muscles play an essential role in body movement. Stretching the trunk can help relieve tension and back pain and reduce injury risk in older adults. It also improves stability and functional fitness. This exercise can be done while sitting or standing.
Follow these steps to perform the trunk stretch:
- Stand or sit upright with your legs slightly apart.
- Cross your arms over your chest.
- Twist to your left side while only trying to rotate at the trunk.
- Hold this position for about 30 seconds and repeat for the right side.
Incorporating early morning stretches into an older person’s routine is very rewarding, as it trains the body’s muscles to function at their best.
These stretches for seniors can help older adults stay fit, healthy, and active. In addition to these exercises, other healthy habits like proper nutrition and hydration will go a long way in maintaining the overall well-being of an older adult.