Savvy Senior:

by | September 30, 2008 12:00 am

Stretching

Dear Savvy Senior

Can you provide some stretching tips for an inflexible old woman? I’ve gotten so stiff in recent years I can’t even bend over to tie my shoes anymore. What can you tell me?

Hate to Stretch

Dear Stretch

Of all possible exercises, stretching tends to be the most overlooked and neglected among seniors, yet nothing is more vital to keeping an aging body limber and injury free. Here’s what you should know.

Good Stretch

As we grow older, common day-to-day activities like reaching down to tie your shoes, or looking over your shoulder to back your car out of the driveway, can become difficult. In fact, according to the American College of Sports Medicine, we lose as much as 10 percent of our flexibility every 10 years. But the good news is, by incorporating some simple stretching exercises into your routine (at least three times a week) you can greatly improve your flexibility, range of motion and balance as well as enhance your posture and circulation, relieve pain and stress, and prevent injuries. In addition, stretching is also important as a warm-up and cool-down for more vigorous activities, and leg stretching is an excellent way to prevent nighttime leg cramps.

Tips and Tools

To help you limber up here are a few tips, tools and alternative options that may interest you:

• Stretching tool: If you need some help executing your stretches the Stretch-Out Strap (it has built-in loops you place your hands and feet into) is a handy tool. You can buy one in most sporting good stores for about $15.

• Bed stretching: Have you ever tried stretching in bed before you get up in the morning? It’s a great way to start the day and reduce that morning stiffness. And a helpful tool is “The Stretching in Bed” instructional guide ($3.95; www.senior-fitness.com; 800-306-3137) which offers 14 stretching exercises, with illustrations.

Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.

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