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Maintain Mobility with Stretching

We see professional athletes stretching before big matches or games, but it is just as important for us to stretch. Stretching keeps muscles and joints strong, flexible and healthy, and helps us maintain a good range of motion. Without stretching, our muscles can shorten and become tight, causing muscles to be weak. This puts us at risk for joint pain, strains and muscle damage.1

David Nolan, a physical therapist at Massachusetts General Hospital says, “A lot of people don’t understand that stretching has to happen on a regular basis. It should be daily.”

Benefits of stretching

Stretching increases blood flow to your muscles, and can help:2

  • Improve your physical performance
  • Decrease your risk of injuries
  • Help your joints move through their full range of motion
  • Enable your muscles to work effectively

The increased blood flow also helps your brain, creating a clearer mind. Stretching:3

  • Releases hormones to improve your mood and emotions
  • Encourages a relaxed awareness of your mind and body
  • Focuses your awareness on the present

Where to start

The idea of stretching every muscle in your body can seem overwhelming – there are more than 600 muscles in your body, after all. You don’t have to stretch every muscle, just focus on a few key areas.

“The areas critical for mobility are in your lower extremities: your calves, your hamstrings, your hip flexors in the pelvis and quadriceps in the front of the thigh,” says Nolan.

You can test your lower body’s range of motion with this quick test. You’ll need a sturdy chair and a ruler or tape measure.

Stretching your shoulders, neck and lower back is also beneficial. You should try to stretch daily or at least three times a week.1 Check out these 5 questions about stretching of how and when to stretch.

Remember the following tips to keep stretching safe: 2

  • Strive for equal flexibility side to side (especially if you have a history of a previous injury).
  • Focus on major muscle groups.
  • Don’t bounce your stretch. Instead hold the stretch and feel the muscle.
  • Listen to your body and just go until you feel the stretch.
  • Make stretches sport specific – be sure to stretch whichever muscle group you used, or plan on using.
  • Stretch regularly.

Get started with Silver Sneakers

SilverSneakers®, a lifestyle and fitness benefit designed specifically for seniors, has classes like yoga and SilverSneakers EnerChi™ to help you get the most out of your stretching. Check with your health care provider to see if it is included in your health plan at no additional cost. SilverSneakers is more than a fitness program – it’s a way of life.

If you enjoyed this article, visit SilverSneakers

Go to to see if you are eligible today.

Always talk with your doctor before starting an exercise program.

  1. Stretching: Focus on Fitness
  2. Focus on Fitness
  3. Stretch Your Body, Stretch Your Mind

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