Many seniors struggle with stiffness due to arthritis and other health conditions, and often find that their range of motion is limited after a long night of lying still in bed. Doing some stretches in the morning can help get your blood flowing and dispel any stiffness you feel after sleeping. Before stretching, we recommend changing out of your pajamas into adaptive clothing for men or adaptive clothing for women and putting on a pair of non-slip shoes to enhance your comfort and safety.
Here are 11 morning stretches that all seniors should try for a total body stretch:
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This is a perfect stretch to start off with because it limbers up your upper body. While sitting or standing, let your arms hang loosely at your sides. Roll your shoulders forward in a clockwise direction for at least 10 reps and then reverse the motion and roll them backwards for at least 10 reps. Repeat this as many times as needed.
This is perhaps the simplest stretch on this list. While sitting or standing, tilt your neck to one side and hold the position for at least 30 seconds. To enhance the stretch, take the hand from the side you are leaning toward and place it gently on your head. Press down as much or as little as you want to deepen the stretch. Repeat on the other side.
Overhead side stretch
This is another stretch that can be done either sitting or standing. If your balance is not that great, we recommend doing it while sitting. Raise one arm straight up in the air and lean over to the opposite side until you feel the stretch. To enhance the stretch, you can also lace your fingers together and raise them both over your head. Lean to one side and hold for at least 30 seconds and then repeat on the other side. Repeat as many times as necessary.
While sitting or standing, raise one arm to shoulder level and cross it over your body until it lies as flat against your chest as possible. If you don’t have enough flexibility to actually touch your arm to your chest, that’s perfectly okay. Take the hand on your other arm and gently grasp your forearm, pulling on your arm just until you feel the stretch. Try to hold it for at least 30 seconds and then repeat on the opposite side.
While sitting or standing, raise one arm straight above you and then bend your elbow until your hand hangs down, pointing towards the floor. Take your other arm and gently grasp your elbow with your hand and pull on it until you feel the stretch. If you want to take the stretch to the next level, combine it with the overhead stretch by leaning to the opposite side (away from the tricep you are stretching). Hold it for at least 30 seconds and then repeat on the other side.
While sitting or standing, lace your fingers together and raise them to shoulder height. Reach as far away as you can until you feel the stretch in your back muscles. Hold for at least 30 seconds and repeat as necessary.
There are two variations of this stretch, both of which can be done sitting or standing. For the easier version of the stretch, hold your arms out to your sides and raise them as high as you can. Then, lift them behind you until you feel the stretch in your chest. For the harder version, lace your hands behind your back and then raise your arms as high as you can without shoulder pain. Try to hold either position for at least 30 seconds if possible.
Standing quadriceps stretch
Stand next to a wall or chair that you can hold onto for balance. Lift one foot off the ground and bend your knee to raise your foot as much as possible. Grab your ankle with the other hand and pull on your foot until you feel the stretch. If you don’t have the balance to stand, you can also lie down on your stomach and do this same stretch. Hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds and then repeat on the other side.
This is another stretch with two variations. To stretch one hamstring at a time, stand with one leg staggered in front of the other and then lean over until you feel the stretch. Hold for at least 30 seconds and then repeat on the other side. To stretch both hamstrings at once, stand in a wide stance and lean forward as far as you can. You can even put your hands on the ground if you’re that flexible.
Find a clear space of wall and place the toe of one shoe at the bottom, so that your foot is bent upwards at an angle. Step your other foot backwards to provide a firm stance and then lean into the forward foot until you feel the stretch. Try to hold it for at least 30 seconds and then repeat on the other side.
Knee to chest stretch
This stretch can be done sitting in a chair or lying down flat on the floor, whatever is more stable for you. Once you get into position, bend one knee and lift your leg, bringing the knee as close to your chest as possible. Grab onto the knee with your hands to hold the position and deepen the stretch. Try to hold it for at least 30 seconds and then repeat on the other side.
Are there other stretches that you like to incorporate into your morning routine? Do you have recommendations for senior clothing that you love to wear while stretching? Let us know in the comments below!