There are a lot of things that change as you age. Hopefully, you get wiser, more confident in your abilities and enjoy longer and healthier relationships. Unfortunately as you get older, you will also begin to feel the effects of aging on your body. The biggest change that many people begin to notice, besides clothes not fitting the way they used to, is a decrease in flexibility. Dropping your car keys feels like more of a struggle as you strain to reach the floor, something that you wouldn’t have given a second thought to years before.
This happens for a few reasons. As muscles age, they lose mass and start to shrink, making flexibility more of a challenge. Also, the number of muscle fibers decreases, making recovery time slower. The water content in tendons lessen, making muscles less elastic and less able to tolerate stress. Joints, as well as muscles, lose mobility as they age, making simple tasks difficult due to restricted range of motion. Even active athletes can benefit from flexibility training, leading to faster recovery from workouts and increased performance. Here are a few ways to get more flexible no matter what stage or activity level you are at in life.
Yoga is a great, low-impact exercise for people at every activity level. It’s emphasis is on slower and more meaningful breathing, which is great at reducing stress. Flexibility and range of motion will also increase as you integrate this practice into you life.
Through regular exercise, our bodies become acclimated to movement and sedentary muscles become more responsive. It can be an exercise as simple as walking. As long you stay consistent in your routine, you should start to see results. Aim for at least 30 minutes a day of elevated physical activity.
Get a Massage
Seek out a massage therapist familiar in the techniques of Neuromuscular, Rolfing, and Myofascial Release which are designed to get rid of problems in your body that can reduce flexibility.
Visit the Hot Tub or Sauna
Although this will do little on its own if not accompanied by exercise or stretching, the heat will help tight muscles and joints become more limber.
Static stretches are stretches that are done while the body is at rest, or before or after exercising. Lots of traditional static stretches, if done consistently, will help to increase flexibility. (See this chart for some stretches you can do at home).
As we age, it’s inevitable that we will lose some flexibility, but aging gracefully is about having the freedom to do the things you love as you get older. Don’t let tight muscles and joints take that freedom. It’s not too much of a stretch to imagine yourself more flexible and free, making the later years, your best years!