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Flexibility

The Importance Of Stretching

Picture of people stretching supports the title

Why is Stretching so Important?

Image of a warning sign to indicate the importance of stretching

The Importance Of Stretching. Why you need to stretch is simple. Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy. And we all need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints. Inactivity over long periods of time and sarcopenia causes the muscles to shorten and become tight. When you decide to do something that needs those shortened, tight muscles, consequently, they are weak and unable to extend all the way. Now you are in danger of sustaining joint pain, strains, and muscle damage.

Is Stretching just for Athletes?

Image of an athlete, post explains stretching is not just for athletes it is for everyone

Is Stretching something just performed by athletes. No, however, we all need to stretch to protect our flexibility, mobility, which maintains our independence. But, unfortunately, most people really do not understand that stretching needs to happen regularly. And should be a daily routine.

What does stretching do?

Image of a person stretching, to support the post explanation of what stretching does

The Importance Of Stretching. Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, and we need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints. Building muscle for strength to combat the effects of sarcopenia is important, but so is flexibility. Stretching as a daily routine will, as older people, gives us mobility, and mobility maintains our independence. Besides, it is also an important contributor to maintaining a good balance.

Sitting for extended periods

image of a person sitting to emphasize what sitting for long periods does

The Importance Of Stretching. Sitting in a chair all day results in tight hamstrings in the back of the thigh. And has the effect of making it harder to straighten your leg and knee fully. In addition, tight and weakened muscles may not be strong enough to support a sudden movement, which may cause joint damage and or a severe fall. A daily stretching regime keeps muscles long, lean, and flexible. As a result, this helps ensure that exertion or sudden movement will not deliver too much force on the muscle itself.

Flexible healthy muscles support your Balance

Image displays balance to support flexibilities role in good balance

The Importance Of Stretching. Why you need to stretch. Part of the body’s balance system depends on your strength and flexibility. So then, being inflexible means limited movement ability with the added problem of weak muscles. Also, this is why many older people have a shortened gait when walking. Often displayed by a short step with the toes pointed down as they move forward, this creates a serious fall hazard.

How to start a stretching routine

It would be best if you always cleared a new stretching regimen with your doctor before you start.

Image shows the body muscular system, to help explain that not all muscles have to be stretched daily

There are many muscles in the body. However, you do not need to stretch them all every day. Firstly, it would help if you focused on the muscles you use for mobility. Such as the lower areas like the Hip flexors, quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and the lower back. Most importantly, these are the key areas for movement. However, do not forget the neck, arms and shoulders used for almost everything else you do. Furthermore, a daily stretching regime would be most beneficial. But at least 4 days a week as a minimum.

When should you begin stretching?

Image of a clock face to support when stretching should be done

It would benefit you if you did not stretch muscles before exercise. But, as a result, stretching muscles before exercising could actually damage them. So then, cold muscle fibres are not ready or prepared. And could be seriously damaged. However, if you exercise first, you will get blood flow to the area. Consequently, this makes the tissue more pliable and amenable to being stretched safely.

Stretching for Flexibility takes time

Image of a callander to show it takes a long time to achieve flexibility

Firstly, stretching once will not automatically give you perfect flexibility. But, it would help if you did it over time and remain committed to your progress. Secondly, it might have taken you many months, even years, to get tight muscles. So, you are not going to reverse that and be perfectly flexible after one or two days. Consequently, it takes weeks, even months, to get flexible, and you will have to continue working on it to remain flexible.

Warming up for Stretching Muscles

Image of a jogger to show it is a way to warm up before stretching
Always warm-up

Always warm up muscles to prepare them. All it takes to warm up the muscles before stretching is 10 to 15 minutes of light activity, such as a quick walk, or light jog, however, after any aerobic or heavy weight-training workout. In this case, stretching would be beneficial for recovery and reducing any muscle soreness.

What Muscles Should You Stretch

Image is to make the reader think about getting medical advice before starting to stretch

Healthy adults should do flexibility exercises for all major muscle-tendon groups. Especially the areas of the neck, shoulders, chest, trunk, lower back, hips, legs, and ankles. As a rule, at least three to four times a week. However, your doctor will advise you from knowing your current health condition. Therefore, the doctor’s advice should always guide you on how to proceed.

How Much Time Is Needed to Stretch

Image of an hour glass to support the time needed for each stretching exercise

As an example, and for best results, you should spend about 60 seconds on each stretching exercise. Therefore, if you can hold a particular stretch for 15 seconds, repeating it three more times would be great. However, if you can hold the stretch up to 20 seconds, that would also be perfect with a further two repetitions.

In Conclusion

Stretching will improve your range of motion, your balance and your gait. But, most importantly, it will create a feeling of well being and confidence. As a result, it will help to prevent life-threatening falls. Consequently, this could improve longevity and keep you independent longer. But, remember you cannot put right years of inactivity in a week or two; this is a long term project that requires determination, stamina and the mindset to achieve your goals. So, do not be disheartened; if you don’t get results immediately, persevere; you will get there.

Important Note *

Remember that everyone is different, and it is ultimately YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to find what your body responds to… So please do your own due diligence before trying anything new, including getting Medical Advice to ensure your safety and peace of mind.

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4 replies on “The Importance Of Stretching”

I saw your Quora answer about the ability of the body to respond to exercise in old age. I think I qualify. I am 75 years old…and yesterday I walked 9 miles. I do admit to feeling a bit tired today, but anxious to read your blog and see if I get a bit of inspiration there. I feel that what I probably need most is flexibility and balance.

Hi Ruth, Walking 9 miles is an awesome achievement, and I agree with you Flexibility and Balance are so important as we age, I am currently preparing a blog for both, that you will see very soon, I am extremely happy you have joined pensioner fitness, Having been weak and feeling vulnerable was not a nice feeling for me so, after I started training and I got stronger, I just wanted to help others like you. Thank you for your comment I really appreciate it. Ian

Ian,
I am a 64 yr. old woman withe genetic disease Ehlers Danlos syndrome- hypermobile type. This makes me very prone to muscle spasms, and a PT treatment many years ago started a spasm in my back that lasted 18 years and was centered on the ribs the diaphragm I’d anchored on. So I am very leery of starting a new exercise routine, because it was as o easy to get in to intolerable pain and severe physical consequences as well as mental distress.

Hi Meg, As it says on the posts, we are all different and must ensure our own safety first. You must not start any fitness routine without speaking to your doctor, who can assess if exercise is compatible with your current diagnosis. I would not want you to be caused any distress; exercise is generally good for most people. However, medication and conditions may not be compatible with some people, which may include you. Only your doctor could assess that. I am happy you are with me on Pensioner Fitness and that you have commented. I hope your doctor can help you to find a solution. Thank you and take care. Ian

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