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Healthy Balance

The Daily Stretch: 8 Exercises to Keep You Limber as You Age

I come from a long line of spry women who have stayed active and mobile into old age. Both my grandmother and my mother held firm beliefs in a daily stretch, religiously performing a set of exercises that no giggles from me could discourage.

Since hitting 40, my joints and muscles get tight quicker and, after exertion, hurt longer. So, following in the steps of my ancestors, I sought advice from David Hryvniak, DO, a physical medicine doctor who works with athletes in the Runner’s Clinic here at UVA.

In these short clips, Hryvniak shows me a series of basic stretches. My mother and grandmother were right: Regular stretching can help keep you limber and prevent injuries that occur from being too sedentary or from exercise.

About These Stretches

This daily stretch routine can:

  • Improve range of motion and function, help prevent injuries and ease pain to your musculoskeletal system
  • Be performed daily or biweekly, holding each position for 30-40 seconds
  • Warm you up before elliptical, running or swimming exercises
  • Work well after exercise, when muscles are warm and ready to be stretched

The Daily Stretch Routine

Neck Stretch

Purpose: Helps neck pain, improve range of motion

Description: Look from side to side, up and down, ear to shoulder

Shoulder Stretch

Purpose: Helps with frozen shoulder, rotator cuff injury

Description: Against a wall or in the shower, stretch arm up in air above head, to the side, behind, across chest

Low Back Stretch

Purpose: Helps with back and hip pain caused by a tightened hip flexor, often the result of sitting too long in a flexed position

Description: Get down on one knee; keep back straight, other leg bent, stretch forward

Hip Stretch

Purpose: Helps with sciatica, gluteal pain in your sacral iliac joint

Description: Bend one leg, cross ankle on knee

Quadricep Stretch

Purpose: Leg tightness; great for athletes and runners

Description: Pull foot behind you

Hamstring Stretch

Purpose: Leg tightness; especially great for swimmers and runners

Description: Put your leg on a surface not too far off the ground, keep knee straight and stretch torso over leg

Foot Stretch

Purpose: Helps heel and arch pain (plantar fasciitis), from tight band of tissue on sole of your foot

Description: Stretch toes back; can be done while sitting and watching TV

Calf Stretch

Purpose: Eases ankle, Achilles, calf pain; good for runners and dancers

Description: Press both hands against a wall; bend front leg, straighten back leg for 30-40 seconds, then bend knee in back leg for another 30-40 seconds

Do you have a favorite stretch?

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