Even if you don't work out it is certainly not a bad thing to do a little stretching every day. Stretching helps to keep our body subtle. It helps keeps our bones and our muscles healthy and it helps us transition in to our golden years more healthfully. Stretching also helps our blood circulate throughout our body. Without proper blood circulation we can reduce the use and ability of our useful limbs.
Even if you don't work out it is certainly not a bad thing to do a little stretching every day. Stretching helps to keep our body subtle. It helps keeps our bones and our muscles healthy and it helps us transition in to our golden years more healthfully. Stretching also helps our blood circulate throughout our body. Without proper blood circulation we can reduce the use and ability of our useful limbs. In other words if you want to be a peppy senior keep your body limber.
I have been posting several articles within the last couple of days about stretches for various parts of the body. This article will focus on a couple of leg stretches that you will need a chair to do. When stretching there is really no pressure. You just do what you can do and go as far as you can go and maybe go a little further the next time you do it. An extra benefit of these exercises is it will help improve your over all balance which is also very important as we age.
Before stretching I always advice that you do some rythmic moving to get the blood pumping and warm up the muscles before stretching. Stretching cold muscles can result in injuries.
I also recommend that you do the Quad Stretch explained in this article: http://fitness-working-out.knoji.com/the-proper-technique-of-the-quadricept-stretch-how-to-work-up-to-it-and-beyond-it/ in addition to these two exercises.
The Hamstring Stretch
This stretches the hamstring muscle which is the large muscle on the back of your upper leg, it starts just above your knee and ends just under your buttocks. The hamstring is a very important muscles because it helps you with just about every standing motion that you do.
You will of course need a chair. You can do this with ankel weights if you like but they are not necessary.
Standing in front of the back of the chair step back far enough so that when you bend over with a straight back your hands are still able to grasp the sides of the back of the chair.
Bend over and grab the chair on both sides of the back of it. If you can create a flat back, if not then bend as far as you can comfortably go without straigning. You head should be facing down, however if you have vertigo, troubles with balance, or if doing this makes you dizzy lift your head up just slightly making sure to not over extend the neck at all, this should be a comfortable position. Tuck your belly in for support of your spine.
Now place your right foot out straight in front of you. Now lift the top of your foot up so that your heal is on the ground and your toes are pointing up. Now lean back ever so slightly until you feel the stretch in the back of your upper leg. You will also of course feel a bit of a stretch in the calve area as well. That is a bonus right there. You can also slighty push your body forward for a different stretch. Both of these feel really good if you do them correctly. If it hurts at all you are going to far.
Hold this stretch for a count of 12. If you want an extra bonus hold it for 4 deep breaths where you inhale slowly through your nose and exhale slowly from your mouth. Deep breathing is very good for us and helps us to relieve tension and stress.
Switch your feet and repeat with the left foot.
Do it on each leg at least 4 times, but 6 is better.
The Super Duper Hamstring Stretch
This is kind of an advanced move so if you are not flexible at all or if you have problems with balance take this one very carefully or save it for when you are more flexible. Be very careful with this one.
Turn your chair around so that the seat part is facing you. Step back far enough that you can lay a sraightened leg on the chair. While leaving your left foot flat on the floor lift your right leg and place it on the seat of the char in front of you. Your leg should be straight (but don't worry if you can't keep it straight it is better to do what you can then to strain to do something), your heal should be on the chair.
Now bend forward and lean on the chair with your hands. The ultimate position is to have a flat back but that is very difficult to do so don't worry if you can't do that. If you can not lean all the way forward then lean as far as you can and then hold which ever side of the chair you can. Hold the position for a count of 12 or for 4 deep breaths as explained above.
Now for safety sake grab the top of the side of the chair with what ever hand is closest to it and raise the top of your body, then carefully pull your leg off of the chair.
Repeat on the left side.
Do at least 4 times on each leg, but 6 is better.
Warm up Exercises and Stretches for the Neck