We all know stretching is important but do you really understand why? When you are younger it may not seem as important but as you age it becomes essential to be able to live your life easier. Flexibility is important to maintain your ADL’s (Activities of Daily Living).
Activities of Daily Living means:
“Everyday routines generally involving functional mobility and personal care, such as bathing, dressing, toileting, and meal preparation. An inability to perform these renders one dependent on others, resulting in a self-care deficit. A major goal of occupational therapy is to enable the client to perform activities of daily living.”
Activities of daily living. (n.d.) Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary. (2012). Retrieved January 28 2016 from http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/activities+of+daily+living
In other words, when you are flexible it is much more easier to reach for something from a high cupboard or bend down low to pick something off the floor.
As you age your muscles stiffen and shorten, especially if you are not doing what is necessary to maintain or increase your flexibility. Increasing your flexibility does not mean that you have to take a stretching or a yoga class 5 times a week. You can easily do various stretches at home to help you to maintain or improve your flexibility but consistency is key.
Here are some examples of stretching you can do at home:
1) Quadriceps Stretch
The quadriceps is the large muscle that runs down the front of your thigh. In order to improve flexibility of quadriceps, grab the back of your heal or the top of your foot and pull the heal towards the rear. Point the knee down towards the floor and use your other arm to reach out for balance if needed or you can hold on to the wall.
2) Hamstring Stretch
The hamstring is the long muscle that runs down the back of your thigh. Place your right heel straight out in a front of you with your toes pointed towards the ceiling and bend your opposite leg as if you were sitting back into a chair. Keep the front leg straight and the front knee slightly bent.
3) Back Stretch
Reach your arms in a front of you and clasps your fingers together. Push your arms straight out as if you were pushing against the wall. As you do that round your upper back creating as much space as you can between your shoulder blades. Keep your abdominals pulled in tight and keep the upper back rounded.
4) Chest Opener Stretch
Standing with your feet shoulders-distance apart. Reach both your arms all the way behind you and clasp the fingers together or to try to touch them together if you cannot. Squeeze your shoulder blades and open up the chest to stretch the pectoral muscles.
Some key factors when stretching are to hold each stretch for at least 10 seconds and make sure that you breath through the stretch by inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth. Repeat each stretch as needed.