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Is It a Stretch for You to Stay Limber?

By Sandy Schroeder

If you wish you were as limber as your kids, or even as limber as you were a few years ago, it may be time to do something about it.

Most of us work to stay fit, following our doctor’s advice, doing aerobics and strengthening muscles. But stretching can be the missing ingredient that keeps us limber, and helps us avoid injuries.

With age, stretching can help seniors stay mobile and independent, allowing them to bend down to pick up things off the floor, or reach up above their heads. I know seniors who seem much younger than their age. They walk a lot, play golf or sail. I know other seniors who can barely get out of the house, as stiffness, and lack of flexibility, slows them way down.

Without stretching, muscles become shorter and tighter. In our culture this shows up in the people who sit for long periods at work. The hamstrings in the back of the thighs can tighten up, making it harder to fully extend the leg and straighten the knee, which can make it harder to walk normally. It can also lead to sports injuries.

What to Do

Start with your physician, and other health experts, such as your local chiropractor, to evaluate where your body is now, in muscle strength and limberness. Then, with your doctor’s approval, begin regular stretching.

It’s important to realize this is not an overnight process. Tightness does not happen overnight, and it won’t be corrected quickly. Health experts say it can take weeks or months to get flexible, and then you need to keep stretching to maintain your new flexibility.

When you stretch, hold for half a minute, and avoid bouncing. As you stretch, you can feel the pull, but you should not feel pain. If you do, stop stretching and talk to your doctor.

Try a Hamstring Stretch

The hamstring stretch can help to improve the flexibility of the muscles in the back of the thighs. Here’s one from the Harvard health community that you may want to clear with your doctor, and then use regularly.

Sit flat on the floor with legs out straight in front of you. Move your hands down your legs until you feel a burning sensation. Hold 30 seconds. Slowly return to an upright position.

Over time, as you regain flexibility, you may notice the difference on the tennis court, out walking, or romping with your kids.  Keep looking for more stretching routines, and build them into your day. The difference can be amazing, both right now and later, as your body ages. 

To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic.

 

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