Stretching helps you maintain flexibility and mobility, which is crucial for good health – especially as you age. The New Jewish Home’s licensed physical therapists and rehabilitation specialists are here to help with six essential stretches for older adults and seniors that target your legs and back, helping you lead a more active, independent life.

Leg Stretches for Aging Adults

Did you know that tight calf muscles could cause problems like plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinitis? Or that maintaining flexibility in the quadriceps is vital for preserving balance and stability? We’ll explain three leg stretches to help alleviate these issues and promote overall leg health.

Hamstring stretch

Begin by sitting on a chair near the seat’s edge with one leg stretched out in front of you and the other foot flat on the floor. Keeping your back straight, lean forward until you feel a mild stretch in the back of your thigh. Hold this position for 20–30 seconds, then switch legs. Repeat the sequence 2–3 times on each side.

Calf stretch

Stand facing a wall and put your hands flat against it at shoulder height. Bend slightly at the knees and step back with one foot. Keeping your back leg straight, plant your heel firmly on the ground. Gradually lean forward until you feel a gentle pull in the calf of your back leg. Hold that position for about 20–30 seconds, then switch sides and repeat.

Quadricep stretch

While stretching these muscles, stand near a wall and place your hand on it for stability. Then, bend one knee and bring your heel toward your buttocks, holding your ankle with your hand. Ease into the stretch by gradually pulling your heel closer to your body until you feel a gentle pull in the front of your thigh. Maintain this position for about 20–30 seconds before switching sides.

Back Stretches for Aging Adults

Maintaining flexibility in your spine is important at any age, but it becomes increasingly essential as you get older. Back stretches can help older adults and seniors improve their posture, enhance mobility, and alleviate pain – positively contributing to overall well-being.

Read on for a series of back stretches designed to do just that.

Seated cat-cow

Begin by sitting on a stable chair with both feet planted firmly on the ground. Place your hands on your knees. Inhale deeply and arch your back, pushing your abdomen forward.

Upon exhaling, gradually round your spine, drawing your chin toward your chest and pressing your hands into your knees (like a cat’s position).

Alternate smoothly between these two postures for approximately 8–10 breath cycles, emphasizing the fluid movement of your spine.

Spinal twist

Sit upright in a chair, feet flat and hip-width apart. Place your left hand on your right thigh. Inhale deeply and gently straighten your spine. Exhale and twist your torso to the right, with your right hand reaching toward the chair’s back. (If you can’t reach the chair’s back, don’t force it and reach until you feel a gentle pull.) Hold the stretch for 3–5 breaths. Slowly release on exhale and return to the center. Repeat the twist to the left, reversing the hand positions.

Seated figure 4 stretch

This stretch targets the hips and glutes, which can become tight with age. Sit on the edge of a chair with both feet flat on the ground. Cross one ankle over the opposite knee, flexing the foot to protect the knee joint. Keeping your back straight, lean forward slightly until you feel a stretch in the outer hip of the crossed leg. Hold for 20–30 seconds, then switch sides.

At The New Jewish Home, we know stretching can help you improve and maintain flexibility for a vibrant, healthy life.

Remember, it’s important to consult a trained medical professional before beginning any new exercise routine. Our Adult Day Care services have licensed physical and occupational therapists ready to help you improve your mobility and overall well-being in our caring and welcoming facility. Contact us to learn more or take a virtual tour.