Stretching Together: Why It’s Important to Keep Moving as We Age Tuesday, June 15, 2021 Stretching is important for strength, flexibility, and mobility. Regular stretching can keep your muscles lean and prevent injuries from occurring. Stretching is particularly important as we age and our muscle mass decreases. No matter your age, adding regular stretch exercises to your daily routine is a healthy choice to keep muscles limber so that you and your loved ones can continue to stay as active as possible. Maintain Range of Motion and Mobility Range of motion naturally decreases as we age, but stretching can slow the progression. When we don’t stretch our muscles, our body may feel stiff or weak. By stretching regularly, you or your loved one experiencing Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia can maintain range of motion and mobility in your joints. Increase Balance and Prevent Injury Balance declines as we age, increasing our risk of falling. Falls can be dramatically life-changing for elderly loved ones experiencing difficulties with balance. Stretching regularly increases strength and agility to help us maintain or even improve balance, which in turn may reduce risk of falling. Decrease Muscle Soreness We tend to associate aches and pains as being a natural part of growing old. Posture and back pain are directly related to muscle strength in the core and the lower back. Stretching can help alleviate pain in the neck, shoulders, or back over time. Stretching can also relieve muscle soreness from inactivity or sudden overexertion. When muscles are being used and stretched regularly, they are prepared for movement. When muscles are not being stretched, they can cause soreness or even injury when they’re suddenly overexerted. Encourage your loved one to join you in a few simple stretches to decrease any soreness they may experience. Explore Stretching Together If you or your loved one are new to stretching, these exercises may help introduce stretching into your daily routine. Start your stretches at 10 second intervals and gradually increase the time and repetition as you both get more comfortable. All of these stretches can be completed while sitting in a chair for stability. Overhead Side Stretch: Reach your hands over your head and lace your fingers together. Lean your torso and arms to the right and hold. Repeat with the opposite side. Shoulder Stretch: Straighten your right arm and cross it over your chest. Use your left forearm to pull your right arm closer to your torso and hold. Switch arms and repeat. Hamstring Stretch: Straighten your right leg, pointing your toes to the sky. Lean forward gently, bringing your chest down toward your knee and hold. Repeat with the opposite leg. Foot Circles: Sitting up straight, lift your right ankle off the ground and rotate your foot in a clockwise circle, then counterclockwise. Repeat with the opposite ankle. Sitting Cat Cow: Sitting in your chair, inhale as you lift your chin to the ceiling and lengthen your spine. Arch your back and press your legs into the seat. As you exhale, slowly drop your chin to your chest, round your back, and tilt your hips up. Willow River is Here to Help At Willow River, we understand the challenges of living with Alzheimer’s and dementia. If you have questions or need help, Willow River has the answers and resources you need. Call Willow River Senior Living at 888-546-1886 to start the conversation today.