Lifestyle

Aging muscles should not snap, crackle, pop | Health and Fitness

Snap, crackle and pop. It’s not your breakfast cereal talking; rather, it’s your joints and muscles vocalizing their need for care. As we age, the flexibility of muscles and joints diminishes which can restrict range of motion and increase the probability of injury.

Flexibility refers to the ability to move your joints through a full range of motion and is important to maintaining your quality of life. However, other than athletes and yoga participants, most adults do not stretch daily.

Stretching may appear unproductive but the opposite is true. A few minutes of stretching can assist with enhancing wellbeing. Better flexibility can improve your balance and coordination, ease pain, reduce stress and help you relax.

Time concerns are always valid. The American Col-lege of Sports Medicine recommends stretching at least three times a week for about 10 minutes. These minutes do not need to be all at once. If you take a few minutes in the morning to stretch and a few minutes before bed, you will achieve the goal of 10 minutes.

Developing a habit of frequent stretching during the week does not need to be challenging. Look to your dog or cat for inspiration. When they get up in the morning or from a nap they always stretch before they stand up. Stretches should be held for 10-30 seconds, and should not be so intense that they are painful. Try not to bounce as you stretch; the key is to perform a static stretch. Increase the effectiveness of the stretch by coordinating it with intentional deep breathing.

Here are some easy stretches to weave into your day:

  • Reach for the sky: inhale and extend both arms above your head to the sky, exhale and lower your arms by your side.
  • Lateral stretch: inhale and extend one arm to the sky and extend the opposite arm to the floor, exhale and lower your extended arm to your side, repeat on the opposite side.
  • Seated forward fold: sit at the edge of a chair, inhale and exhale as you hinge at the hips and extend your hands to your thighs, return to the upright sitting position. Try reaching for the floor as your flexibility increase.
  • Wrist and ankle rotation: rotate your ankles and wrists one direction and then the other.
  • Neck flexibility: sit up tall and move your shoulders down away from your ears, bring your ear toward your shoulder on one side and then the other. Bring the head back to center and drop your chin toward your chest.
  • Shoulders: standing and facing a wall, place your hands on the wall above your head and walk back until you feel a stretch in your shoulders.

Best wishes for your continued success.

Stephanie Norton-Bredl is the health and wellbeing director at the Auburn Valley YMCA and may be contacted at snortonbredl@seattleymca.org. Bruce deJong is a group exercise instructor at the Auburn Valley YMCA and may be contacted at bruce@bicyclebootcamp.com.

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