Exercise and staying in shape is often an important priority to anyone in retirement, but did you know that regular stretching could be just as important to staying limber? Below are five reasons why stretching should be a consistent habit in the routine of any active adult aged 55 and up:
- Stretching loosens up your muscles and joints
Regular stretching helps loosen muscles and stiff joints. To do so, it’s important to focus on range-of-motion stretching rather than the traditional “stretch and hold” method. Simple mobility exercises include wrist bends, shoulder shrugs, knee lifts and other moves that provide a full range of motion.
“I always say motion is your best friend,” said licensed massage therapist Karey Bleak. “The older we get, the stiffer we get, so motion actually enhances your stretch and helps prevent problems like arthritis and worn-down cartilage.”
- Stretching can improve balance and mobility
To truly improve balance, Bleak points out that muscle strengthening must be included with a stretching regimen to maximize effectiveness.
“When it comes to balance and mobility, I follow a ‘use it or lose it’ mantra,” she said. “The goal is to have your body properly aligned. Tight muscles pull on bones; weak muscles won’t stabilize the muscles. So, a focus on regularly stretching and strengthening will balance those muscles out and decrease wear and tear.”
- Stretching will help maximize the impact of your workout
This well known fact may seem like the most obvious tip on this list, but daily stretching does wonders for improving flexibility. Better flexibility will mean better form when working out which, in turn, will mean a more effective workout.
However, Bleak warns that stretching may not be the very first thing you do before a workout. “To get the most out of a stretch, your body needs to be warm,” she explained. “Before you start stretching, try walking for five or ten minutes or a quick jog to warm up.”
- Dynamic stretching can reduce the risk of injury
Most people are probably in the habit of stretching before a workout but, as Bleak mentioned above, it’s important to never stretch cold muscles. Often, the very act of stretching during your warm-up can help your brain get into “workout mode,” making you less likely to injure yourself.
Bleak also pointed out that daily stretching also has the potential to help prevent injuries like tennis or golfer’s elbow, which are frustrating impediments to a thriving active adult lifestyle.
- Daily stretching may lower your blood sugar
While it’s a scientifically backed fact that exercise helps control your body’s glucose levels, a recent study also suggests that stretching can lower blood sugar as well. According to a report by Prevention magazine, participants with type 2 diabetes or who were pre-diabetic who stretched for forty minutes after consuming a sugary drink had lower blood sugar than those who didn’t stretch their muscles.
For more from Karey Bleak, check out kareybleak.com, including a special offer of 20% off for all SunRiver residents on their first visit to her office!
Written By: Glenn Rowley