If daily activities involving bending, reaching and stretching are becoming more challenging, you’re not alone – as we age, our muscles lose mass and our joints have less mobility.
The phrase ‘use it or lose it’ is true for your flexibility, which is why including some simple stretches into your daily routine can work wonders for stiffening joints. We’ve teamed up with the fitness experts at Vivotion.com to guide you through the best ones for helping aches and pains…
1. Take the tension off your back
How: Lie face down on your bed or the floor. Place your hands flat under your shoulders, with your elbows tucked into your sides. Slowly press into your hands to lift your chest up. Keep the hips and tops of the feet pressing into the bed/ floor. Hold for a few breaths, then release back towards the bed/floor. Repeat five times.
2. Improve mobility in your wrists
How: Keep your forearm still by holding it with your other hand, then clench your fist and rotate your wrist in both directions before repeating on the other side.
3. Sort out stiff hamstrings
How: From a standing position, bend forwards at the hips and try to touch your toes. Work on keeping the legs straight, but bend the knees if you feel any discomfort. Hold for five breaths, then slowly roll back up.
How low can you go? Turn it into an eight-week challenge to see how much closer you can get to touching your toes. If you’re starting with very little flexibility, gently ease yourself into it for the first two weeks then stretch a little lower for the next six weeks.
4. Stretch out painful thighs
How: Stand upright, raise one leg behind you and grab hold of the foot, drawing it close to your bum. Press your hips forwards and keep your knees in line. Balance on the grounded leg for five breaths – hold onto a chair or the wall if you need to.
5. Lengthen your sides
How: While sitting on a bed or on the floor, keep one hand on the bed/floor, raise the other over your head and lean toward the opposite side. Hold for a few seconds to feel the stretch in your side, then repeat on the opposite side.
6. Reduce pressure in your calves
How: Face a wall, with the toes of one foot touching the wall and the other foot behind you. Push your body weight towards the wall as you press down through the heel of the back foot. Hold for five breaths and then swap legs and repeat.
7. Release stiff shoulders
How: Stand up or sit on a stool. With one arm by your side, bend the other and bring your elbow up to shoulder height, resting your hand on the side of your neck. Start to draw a circle with your elbow, moving in a clockwise motions, before switching direction and drawing circles going anti- clockwise. Repeat this with the other shoulder.
8. Rotate aching ankles
How: Find a comfy seat then raise one foot off the floor. Moving only your foot, draw five clockwise circles in the air with your big toe, rotating your ankle. Repeat in an anti-clockwise direction, and then do the same with your other foot.
9. Ease sore knees
How: Sit down and fully extend your legs in front of you, pointing your toes away from your body. Then, one leg at a time, raise and lower your knee (causing a slight bend) at a comfortable pace, keeping your heel and bum planted.
10. Loosen up your neck
How: With your torso and shoulders still, tilt your neck to one side, bringing your ear toward your shoulder. Hold for a couple of breaths then repeat on the opposite side. To work the back of the neck, lower your chin toward your chest, then draw a semi-circle with your nose, from one side to the other.
*Keep your joints healthy for longer
Boost the results of all your stretching with a couple of simple lifestyle changes…
*Try adding some low-impact workouts into your routine. Cycling or swimming are great for getting your heart rate up, which has been shown to reduce joint swelling.
*Keep your weight within a healthy range. Joints like the knees, hips and back all bear the brunt of extra pounds.
*Help keep your joints lubricated with supplements. We like LQ Liquid Health Joint Care bottles, £24.99 for 10, Boots . They have marine collagen to keep your skin and tendons healthy, and glucosamine to aid cartilage and tissue renewal.
*Perfect your posture. Reminding yourself not to slouch is key, as this puts stress on your joints. This means when you’re standing up as well as sitting down.
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