While remaining active is a high priority for healthy seniors, the ability to stay flexible is just as important. Having functional flexibility and full range of motion throughout the body will optimize the ability to move and prevent injury during activity. Here is a short list of active stretches for healthy seniors to put into your fitness program.
Begin by standing with your feet shoulder width apart. Step forward with your right leg and then crouch down so that your hands are on the floor in front of you and both legs are bent. Draw your abdominals inward and tighten Begin straightening both legs until you feel the stretch. Controllably move in and out of this stretch position by bending and straightening your legs. Switch sides and repeat.
Stand with your side to a wall and your arm out holding the wall as a brace. Draw your abdominals inward and tighten. Lifting your outside foot off the ground slightly, swing your leg forward and backward as far as your range of motion allows. Maintain good posture throughout this exercise. Do not arch your back or bend at the waist, but allow the movement to come from your hip. Switch sides and repeat these directions using the other leg.
Active seated adductor
Begin by sitting on an exercise ball with feet shoulder width apart in front of you. While still seated on the ball, extend your left leg to the side to assume a lunge position with your left foot turned towards the instep (do not force your left foot flat on the floor). Draw your abdominals inward and tighten Place your left hand on the knee of your right leg and rotate your upper body away from the extended leg by reaching straight up and behind with your right arm. Controllably move your arm in and out of this position to actively stretch your inner thigh.
Pectoral wall stretch
Standing next to a wall, extend your arm straight out to your side, placing your palm flat on the wall, fingers pointing backwards. Draw your abdominals inward and tighten. Slowly turn your chest away from the wall until you feel a slight stretch. Hold for 20-30 seconds.
Latussimus dorsi stretch
Kneel with stability ball in front of you. Place your hands on the exercise ball, shoulder width apart with your thumbs pointing up and your arms straight. Draw your abdominals inward and tighten. Slowly roll your arms forward on the ball, lowering your upper body to bring your head between your elbows. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds.
Perform these stretches everyday, 2-3 times each for about 30 seconds for optimum flexibility. Remember, the more flexible you are, the more active and healthy you can be.