We could bend over, touch somewhere close to our toes, play outside with the kids, and live with little or no pain. But, we were younger then! Today we’re seniors with stiff and stubborn muscles and joints.
Sooner or later, most seniors do find it hard to sleep – and then wake up stiff in the mornings. Even though I can’t guarantee a new lease on life with these simple stretches – You are going to love them. In fact, everyone I know who uses them gets better sleep, feels better, and gets around easier all day.
6 Gentle Stretching Exercises for Seniors
It shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes to do each of the exercises in the images below, and here’s a couple of things to remember:
- You’re not in training for the olympics here! Even though they are referred to as exercises, just use them to relax. They require very little effort, so DO NOT STRETCH FURTHER THAN IS COMFORTABLE!
- It’s important to note that you don’t need to warm up when doing stretches before bed. The goal is to wind you down and not perk you up.
- To get the best results, you do need to watch your breathing when doing the stretches mentioned below. Think about your breath as you are stretching and try to inhale and exhale deeply and in a rhythmic fashion.
1. Seated Chair Stretches
You can do this stretch while seated in a chair, or sitting on the floor.
In a chair sit up straight with your feet flat on the floor. Lift one arm above your head and very gently bend towards the other side. I like to do this 2-3 times and then alternate arms.
Sitting on the floor cross your legs (Just sit however you are comfortable) and raise your left arm above your head. Now lean sideways to the right so that the side of your torso gets a good stretch. Next, repeat on the other side with your right arm raised.
The cat camel stretch is one of my favorites for anytime during the day that I feel any back pain. It is a great and gentle stretch.
Get on all fours. Inhale slowly and drop your belly down and arch your back as you look upwards. Be especially careful with looking up at first, because it can leave you with a sore neck.
Next, exhale as you bring your hips up and round your back like a camel’s hump. Do this move a couple of times.
I’m not sure if this is a technical part of this exercise, but while you’re in the cat-camel position, gently stretch your butt first to one side and then to the other.
Wondering what you could do for exercise? Here’s 35 ways to get exercise and stay active.
3. Child’s pose
Sit on your heels with your back upright. Now slowly lean forward till your forehead touches the floor. Your arms should be relaxed and by your side. Hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds. This should stretch your lower back.
So what if you find you can’t get your body to look just like the image? The most important thing is to do the best you can. You are going to find this so relaxing that you hate to get up.
4. Back stretch
This back stretch is just an extension of the child’s pose. Just bring your arms from your sides to stretch out in front of you.
Straighten both your arms out in front of you and reach as far as you can go. Hold the stretch for 30 to 60 seconds.
As I move my arms from my sides to an outreached position in front of my body, I exhale deeply and find this a very relaxing place.
5. Lying twist
Lie on your back with both your arms stretched out on the floor at shoulder level. Keep your feet close together.
Bring both knees upwards and towards your chest. Now lower both knees to the left side.
This should twist your trunk sideways. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds and repeat on the other side.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that all adults over 65 need a minimum of 2 1/2 hours of exercise every week.
6. Happy Baby
This stretch with a cute name is a pose that’s similar to what babies do.
Lie on your back, bring both your legs up with the soles facing the ceiling. Your knees should be bent and your feet low enough for your palms to grip your soles.
This is like baby playing with his feet and toes. The official Happy Baby pose is grabbing the big toe of each foot and bring your knees closer to your chest. However, don’t worry about that — just grab your feet anywhere you can.
If possible, you may wish to rock side to side to further massage your back. This stretch will relieve pressure on your hips and back. It’s a relaxing stretch that is ideal before bedtime.
These simple stretching exercises will increase your range of motion and overall strength more than you can imagine. That alone will make you feel good, but there’s a lot more benefits. Seniors in particular find this additional strength and ease of movement great for help with balance issues which makes them less prone to injury.
Simple Stretching Exercises Will:
- Help with stiffness
- Increase flexibility
- Greatly increase your confidence for activities such as walking, shopping, bending over, etc.
- Improve your posture which is always good for improving back pain
When to Stretch
Of course, you can do any of these stretches anytime you like. You don’t even have to do them all at once. Even though I try to go through the entire routine each night for a much better sleep, I also have my favorites that I will do during the day.
Here’s more great stretching exercises with images that are easy to do, and increase flexibility.
Here’s why I like to use this routine before I go to bed:
- Easy to do
- Takes only a few minutes
- Will help you sleep like a baby when done at night
- Helps relieve muscle and joint pain
- Once you get on the floor, you can do the last 5 of the 6 before getting up again
One of the best ways to calm your body down and get it in a relaxed state that’s conducive for a good night’s sleep, is to engage in a few pre-bedtime stretches. Not only will these stretches relax you, but you’ll also wake up refreshed and less stiff. However, once you’ve discovered the benefits of these exercises, you’ll likely be doing them during the day too.
I know a lot of seniors have trouble sleeping, and these exercises are like a magic sleeping pills with plenty of benefits. Even though you can do them anytime you choose, spending 20-30 minutes limbering up and working out the kinks is sure to help your sleep.
Not only will you wake up refreshed, after a week or two you will start to see unmistakable differences in your body and moods.
I find these stretching exercises for seniors are the best because they are simple, and really work. Give them a try and find out for yourself.