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How To Assess Your Level of Flexibility

Level of flexibility

Any senior who is deciding to be proactive about stretching and increasing their flexibility is on the right track. However, before you start on your journey, it’s important to know where you currently stand.

The only way to do that is to assess your level of flexibility before starting. This will not only give you an idea of how much progress you’ve made after a while, but you’ll also be aware of any limitation, weak spots or other issues that you have.

The first point to note is that generally, the older you are, the less flexible you’ll be. This is often the norm unless you have been engaging in regular yoga sessions throughout your life or are a gymnast who have kept up with your flexibility training throughout the years.

Most seniors lead sedentary lives. So, it’s normal for one to be more rigid and stiff because of age.

If you are a caregiver, you can use the tips below as simple checks to gauge the flexibility of the senior(s) you are caring for.

  • Health inventory

Take a brief health inventory and ask yourself questions such as:

Do you have back issues?

Shoulder pain?

Neck problems?

Knee problems?

Knowing what health problems you have will allow you to work around them, or alleviate them. For example, if you have knee pain, doing hamstring stretches and hip stretches may relieve the pain. They may seem unrelated, but tight muscles in these areas can cause knee pain.

  • Check with your doctor

Speak to your doctor and check if you have any conditions that will limit your activities. For example, seniors with back pain are often told not to engage in activities like gardening because of the strain it places on the back.

  • Any stiffness?

Is there any part of you that feels stiff? Maybe you wake up every morning and your neck feels tight… or after sitting for a while, stretching your legs may seem difficult. All these are hints given off by the body telling you that these areas need more attention and stretching.

  • Do a few simple tests

Stand in front of a mirror and do a postural evaluation. Are you hunching? Are your shoulders drawn forward?

Can you bend forward and touch your toes? If you can’t, how far can you go? Your forward flexion is a good indication of how flexible you are. Do the same with a lateral flexion and extension — in other words, a side bend of your trunk and leaning backwards to see how far back you can go.

Are you able to clasp your hands behind your back? Can your head turn from side to side with maximum range of motion?

Ideally, you should have someone nearby to spot you. Since seniors may have balance issues, having someone by their side to help them out is an excellent idea.

  • Take notes

It’s best to write down notes on your range of motion so that you have some record to measure your progress. For example, if you can only touch your knees when you bend forward, after 3 months of daily stretching, you may be able to touch your toes. That is definitely progress.

The same applies to other movements like trunk rotations, hamstring stretches and so on. You can only know how far you have ome when you know where you used to be.

Once you embark on a stretching program, aim to do it at least 4 to 7 times a week. Stretching can be done daily. Over time you will see and feel the difference. Flexibility takes time, but with consistency, you will see results.

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Kelvin Teo also writes at Holistic Health Methods — a health and wellness blog focusing primarily on the topics of holistic health, home remedies and alternative therapies.

He is also the founder of Simply Coffee Mugs — a site where he shares his passion for everything coffee and mugs.

 

 

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Flexibility in Seniors: 3 Common Misconceptions and Mistakes

fleixibility in seniors

If you’ve read the book, ‘Stretching’, by Bob Anderson back in the 1970s, you will probably have noticed this important statement he wrote, ‘If you stretch correctly and regularly, you’ll find that every movement you make becomes easier.’

All these years later, his quote still holds true because human anatomy hasn’t changed much. The more flexible you are, the easier your movements will be.

This is especially important when you lose the vim and vigor of youth and you’re in your senior years where even reaching for the remote seems like a feat of Olympic proportions.

Even though stretching and flexibility is of paramount importance regardless of age, most people barely give it any thought. For those who do give flexibility training some thought, there are still a lot of common mistakes made and misconceptions held that don’t carry any weight.

In this article, you’ll discover how to avoid the mistakes and understand that flexibility can be improved regardless of your age.

All levity aside, let’s look at the pertinent points below.

3 Common Misconceptions

1) You’re too old to stretch

You’re never too old to start. In fact, if you’re not flexible, it’s even more important to start despite your age. You’ll notice that as the days and weeks go by, you’ll become limber, stronger and have a better sense of balance.

There are many seniors who achieve a high level of flexibility even when they’re in their golden years. The key is consistency in training.

2) You need to already be flexible

You do not need to be a contortionist to start stretching and becoming more limber. Anyone and everyone should try to stretch daily.

3) No pain, no gain

Stretching should be done in a controlled manner that is slightly challenging but NOT painful. You just want to do your best to stretch as far as you can go without feeling pain. Flexibility training is meant to be gradual and progressive. No force or pain required. This is not a Kung Fu movie where you need to do splits and high kicks.

3 Common Mistakes

1) Only stretch the ‘tight’ muscles

One of the most common mistakes people make is to only stretch the area that is feeling tight or sore. For example, if their neck hurts, they may do neck rotations and stretches and call it a day.

Your body works in synergy. Besides stretching your neck, you also need to work on your back, shoulders and hips.

Ideally, you should focus on a series of stretches that work the entire body from head to toe.

2) Inconsistency

‘Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be bent out of shape.’ – Anonymous

Unlike cardio or resistance training, you can and should stretch daily. In fact, seniors should stretch once in the morning to get their circulation going, and once at night to be all limber and ‘loose’.

Flexibility will only improve if you do it regularly and consistently. This is the cornerstone of successful stretching.

Read this article to find out some of the benefits of regular stretching for seniors.

3) Same ol’ same ol’

Many people do the same old stretching routine ad nauseum. Don’t make that mistake. Try and vary your stretches and do a few different ones every week. This will ensure that you target a wide range of muscles and it will also be more interesting.

To wrap things up, observe the points above and make stretching a priority in your life. Even 15 minutes a day can work wonders if applied consistently.


Kelvin Teo also writes at Holistic Health Methods — a health and wellness blog focusing primarily on the topics of holistic health, home remedies and alternative therapies.

He is also the founder of Simply Coffee Mugs — a site where he shares his passion for everything coffee and mugs.

 

At Play Huahee, We create localised activities and games for seniors. If you’re interested, check out our games here.

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How Seniors Can Benefit From Regular Stretching

stretching for seniors

Joseph Pilates, the founder of the Pilates physical fitness system once said, “If your spine is stiff at 30, you are old. If it is flexible at 60, you are young.”

He couldn’t have said it better. However, when you are young, you are healthier, stronger and your body is less sensitive. As age creeps up on you, you’ll lose muscle mass and your body is more sensitive to pain.

Since many people do not engage in resistance training to retard the muscle loss, the muscle fibers in the body start decreasing. They are then replaced by collagen which will get stiffer with time and reduce one’s mobility. The best way to remedy this problematic situation is with regular stretching. There are a multitude of benefits that can be accrued just by stretching for about 15 to 20 minutes a day. Let’s look at some of the benefits.

  • Reduces stress

Stretching is a good form of stress relief. One may wonder what stress a senior in his or her golden years may face. After all, they’re probably retired and are living a life of relative ease, right?

Wrong. Seniors face stress too. It could be health issues, loneliness, etc. Stress affects everyone to varying degrees. Daily stretching sessions will help seniors alleviate stress.

  • Maintains mobility

The more limber you are, the more easily you’ll move. Climbing the stairs, bending down to pick up the newspaper, etc. will be much easier to do because your body is flexible.

  • Eases pain

Neck aches, backaches, etc. can all be relieved to some degree with daily stretching. Not only will the sessions improve one’s blood circulation, but the ‘tightness’ that causes the muscle imbalance and pain will be eased and this will bring about pain relief.

  • Prevents insomnia

Stretching about 30 minutes prior to bedtime will help to relax the body. Of course, the stretching has to be slow and relaxed. This will help to calm your body down and allow you to sleep more easily.

  • Improves physical performance

It goes without saying that seniors should lead an active lifestyle. Walking, cycling, swimming, etc. can be done well into your later years. Resistance training is also a must to prevent muscle atrophy.

By being flexible, you’ll be able to perform much better at all these sports. Your body has a greater range of motion. You move faster and more easily because you’re flexible. Your athletic performance is improved when you’re limber.

  • Improves posture

Stretching regularly will help to prevent the hunched appearance that so many seniors have. Stretching helps to strengthen your muscles too. You’ll be able to stand straight without hunching.

Very often, seniors hunch because the muscles are tight. That’s why training methods such as yoga and Pilates are so helpful for seniors. They help to strengthen the body while increasing flexibility.

  • Prevents cramps and injuries

By being flexible, you’ll be less prone to cramps, sprains, etc. Just ensure you’re getting enough water daily so that you’re not dehydrated. By now, you should be aware of just how beneficial regular stretching can be… and the points mentioned above are just the tip of the iceberg. Adopt a daily stretching routine and in about 3 weeks to a month, you’ll feel the difference and never look back.


Kelvin Teo also writes at Holistic Health Methods — a health and wellness blog focusing primarily on the topics of holistic health, home remedies and alternative therapies.

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