“You are only as young as your spine is flexible.” ~ Joseph Pilates
Have you ever watch a cat stretch?
Did you notice how flexible they are?
If there were an Olympic event for stretching, cats would win gold every time. They’re constantly stretching their muscles. Maybe that’s the reason their bodies stay flexible even into old age.
We can learn a lot by watching cats. Potentially, we too can have an elastic, vital body that feels good all of our life. It may seem “normal” for us humans to become less supple as we age, however no evidence exists suggesting we have to lose flexibility with age.
Maintaining flexibility will support in muscle and joints health. The outcome of this simple practice as we age is continued engagement in our favourite daily activities and remaining independent.
Why we loss Flexibility
Do you wake each morning feeling stiff?
Do you find you can’t bend and touch your toes as easily as you used to?
Flexibility declines as the years go by because the muscles get stiffer. And if you don’t maintain flexibility as you age, the muscles will shorten.
Reduced flexibility affects not only our posture but also our ability to easily enjoy everyday activities. Little things become tougher to do.
Stiffness and muscular discomfort stem in part from unexpressed emotions stored as tension, as well as from injuries and other stressors.
Few of us escape these factors, so our bodies tend to tighten, contract and grow less flexible over time.
Why Stretching is Important
Do you find yourself seated for long periods of the day due to work?
If this is you no doubt you have tight hamstrings. This problem makes it harder to extend your leg or straighten your knee all the way. This can have a big impact on your mobility effecting your walking or running with comfort.
Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy. We need that flexibility to maintain a good range of motion.
Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight. When you call on the muscles for activity, they are weak and unable to extend all the way.
Regular Stretching combats Ageing
If you are wondering if it’s possible to become flexible as we age, the answer is YES!
More importantly regular stretching can actively slow the aging process.
I have been regularly stretching for a few years now every morning for 10-15 minutes. As I entered my fifties, after many years working in the fitness industry, I started to notice a decline in my flexibility around the hips and lower back regions of my body impacting my mobility. Through consistent gentle, stretching exercises I have been able to overcome the stiffness and improve my flexibility and suppleness.
You can do the same.
The Benefits of Stretching while Aging
Several new studies have revealed the benefits of stretching. The more often you stretch your muscles, the longer and more flexible they’ll become. As a result, you will:
- Improves your ability to perform daily physical activities.
- Decreases the risk of injuries.
- Improves mobility and balance.
- Decreases pain.
- Improves your posture.
- Helps you keep a more youthful appearance.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Do you avoid stretching because of the discomfort and limited range of motion?
A key principle to bear in mind: Flexibility only comes with practice. It’s no different than going to the gym to lose weight or build muscle. Consistency is the key to success.
You only need a limited amount of time on a regular basis to see improvement and change.
2 Moves To help the hips and back
Are your lower back and hips always stiff and limiting your movement?
Try these 2 simple stretch moves for a period of time. It’s where I started. They work well in a short period of time.
1) Cow Stretch. Benefits: Dog tilt pose stretches the middle to low back and hips, lengthens the spine, and stimulates the kidneys and adrenal glands.
2) Cat stretch. Benefits: Stretches the hips, and back. Relieves pressure and increases mobility in the back. Strengthens and stretches the spine and neck.
Tip of the Day
My tip of the day is to start small. Try the 2 exercises above to get started.
1-3 minutes when you wake waiting for the kettle to boil is ideal.
Gaining flexibility takes time so be sure to go slow, and pay attention to your body.
Once I notice improvement I increased the time and type of stretches to focus on specific areas where I had flexibility issues such as my hips.
If you need ideas U-tube is a great resource of information. Alternatively, get a book and pick 3 or 4 stretches to focus on.
Let’s get started
Given that research is showing us that it is possible to regain and maintain flexibility as you age isn’t it time that you included some stretching into your life?
We all need to stretch in order to protect our mobility and independence.
If you are interested in learning more about what you can do to specifically address you flexibility, or need any help or guidance around stretching or improving flexibility please reach out.
Maybe a lunchtime stretch class at your workplace will be beneficial helping you and your work colleagues stay flexible?
Alternatively, if you are located in Sydney I will be running a 45 minute stretch class every Tuesday starting 8th December at 10.30. If you need details please let me know.