Simple Stretches to Help Seniors Stay Flexible

July 11th, 2019

Though some people can effortlessly contort themselves into any spine-twisting yoga pose, not all of us are naturally limber. Stretching has numerous benefits, including improving your flexibility and range of motion. It can also improve your posture and can even help you lessen or prevent back pain. For seniors, increasing your range of motion can help you prevent injuries, pain, and stress.

Here are some tips to help you get started. As always, consult your doctor before starting a new exercise routine to minimize your risk of injury.

  • Warm up with a little walking—get your blood flowing and muscles ready for stretching.
  • Take your stretches slowly. Don’t bounce or force yourself to stretch more deeply than is comfortable as this can cause injury. 
  • Make it a goal to stretch every day. At the very least, try for three days a week.

Here are some stretches you can do at home with common items. These simple exercises can help you target major muscle groups effectively. Aim to complete each stretch 3-5 times per side and hold it for 10-30 seconds. 


Sitting straight in a chair with your feet on the floor, look straight ahead. Slowly, turn your head to one side until you feel a light stretch. Hold this position for 10-20 seconds, then slowly turn your head back to a neutral position. Repeat on the other side.

Upper Arms/Shoulders

Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, hold one end of a dish towel in your right hand. Raise your right arm above your head and bend it so the towel is hanging down your back, then grab the towel at your lower back with your left hand. Slowly pull the towel down until you feel the stretch in your shoulders and upper arms. Alternate sides until you have completed the stretch 3-5 times with both arms.


Stand near a wall with your arms out and palms flat. Your hands should not quite touch the wall. Lean forward until your palms are touching the wall and walk your hands up the wall until you feel the stretch in your arms, chest, and shoulders. Hold the position for 10-30 seconds and walk back down.


Sit on the floor with your arms and legs straight out in front of you, about shoulder width apart. Starting at your hips, bend forward. Keep your back and neck as straight as possible as you bend toward your feet and reach for your shins. You can try to touch your toes, but it’s okay if you don’t reach. You should feel a stretch, but not pain. Hold for 10-30 seconds.


Stand behind a chair. Hold onto it with your left hand. Bend your right leg up at the knee and, with your right hand, reach back and grab your ankle, pulling up until you can feel the stretch in your thigh. If you can’t reach your ankle, you can use the towel and loop it around your ankle to make this stretch easier. Alternate stretching your right and left leg.


Sit sideways on a hard surface. Keeping one foot on the floor, straighten your other leg and flex your toes so they point toward the ceiling. If you can feel a stretch in your hamstrings, hold this position for 10-30 seconds. Otherwise, bend forward from your hips until you can feel a stretch, then repeat with the other leg.


Stand facing the wall and, placing your hands against the wall, take a step forward with your right leg. Bend your left leg until you can feel a stretch. Make sure you are not locking your legs. If you cannot feel the stretch in your right leg, bend your knee until you can. Hold for 10-30 seconds, and alternate legs until both are stretched.

It’s easy to start stretching, and flexibility will come as you stick with it.

Do you stretch every day? Let us know what you think in the comments!

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