Register Now


Lost Password

Lost your password? Please enter your email address. You will receive a link and will create a new password via email.


Register Now

Please register to setup your profile and join our community!

Why Stretching Exercises For Seniors Is Important When Dealing With Arthritis

Why Stretching Exercises For Seniors Is Important When Dealing With Arthritis

Stretching is not just a young person’s sport. A person carries the same muscles with them for the rest of their lives and will be expected to use them at any given time, even if it’s not for those rough-and-tumble activities you used to participate in as a young adult.

We are going to break down the importance of stretching for seniors. Especially if they are dealing with arthritis. We will discuss the health benefits and consequences of maintaining a steady and consistent stretching regimen.

What Are the Health Benefits of Stretching?

First and foremost, stretching improves overall joint flexibility. As we age and neglect our stretch routines, muscle tissue gets tighter which restricts oxygen flow to muscle groups and restricting joint movement.

For example, sitting all day for many years shortens the hamstring muscles. Without regular stretching, those hamstrings remain restrictively tight which makes it near to impossible for a person to completely straighten their knee in standing for the purpose of walking. Regular stretching prevents unwanted joint and muscle tightness.

Stretching increases blood flow to muscle tissue which means those tissues are receiving sufficient levels of oxygenation. This keeps the muscle tissue healthy and supple for better body movement. Increased blood flow also helps muscle tissue to heal faster in the event of an injury.

Stretching also promotes the release of endorphins which are your “feels good” hormones. This helps your body release tension and stress that leads to unnecessary joint pain. Stretching also helps calm the mind and encourages better sleep patterns.

Lastly, stretching should work hand in hand with regular exercise in order to prepare the body for the unexpected such as falls, loss of balance, injury or illness which is most common in seniors.

Keeping the muscles elongated and healthy means that the body has a better chance of recovering after incurring a medical problem.

What Are Some Consequences of Not Regularly Stretching?

If a senior does not regular participate in stretching. Especially when they have arthritis in the major joints like the knees and hips, the consequences will only add up as they get older. Such consequences include:

  • Being more prone to injury such as pulled or sprained muscles, joint discomfort, etc.
  • Poor posture and chronic spinal pain and inflexibility
  • Chronic joint limitations such as not being able to fully straighten the knees, standing up straight, or reaching over head for items in kitchen or bathroom cabinets.
  • Muscle atrophy or tissue death can happen as a result of restricted blood flow.
  • Loss of or slowing of reflexive reactions such as catching yourself before you fall to the ground.

How Often Should Seniors Perform Stretching Exercises?

Stretching should take place as often as possible. Ideally, stretching everyday up to 10 to 15 minutes will provide optimal benefits.

Select a time in the morning or in the evening to conduct a quick stretch routine. If it helps you to remember, pair the stretching routine with your scheduled exercise routine.

Stretch before and after exercises to prevent muscle and joint stiffness as well as injury. In most cases, there is nothing wrong with stretching more than once a day especially if you tend to have a sedentary lifestyle or participate in a job that requires hours and hours of sitting.

If you do have to sit regularly, like at the computer or when watching TV,  stand up and stretch at least every half hour.


What Senior Stretching Exercises Are The Most Important to Focus On?

If at all possible, seniors should take the opportunity to stretch every joint of the body. Hotspots that tend to get neglected include full range stretches of the shoulders, the spine, the hips, the knees, and the ankles.

If you notice that your posture is getting worse, or that you are losing your balance more often. Then make sure your stretches include every joint throughout the neck, spine, hips, and legs.

Make sure your stretches include movements that you don’t do very often simply because of your day-to-day routine (i.e. reaching for the sky, touching your toes, twisting the torso back and forth, etc.).


How Do You Know if You Are Stretching Correctly or Often Enough?

Each stretch should be held for up to 30 seconds. Stretch just enough to feel it, but not too much that it causes unnecessary pain.

If you are stretching for the first time in a long time, you may not notice a difference in your body for several days (sometimes several weeks).

As you progress day to day, stretch each joint even further until you can comfortably reach full range.

If you are unsure about whether or not you are stretching each joint correctly, consult with a physical therapist or hire a trainer that specializes in stretches for seniors.

Professionals such as physical therapist or occupational therapists can help guide and provide you with stretches in multiple ranges of motion in specific joints like in your shoulder, hip, and trunk that you might otherwise not be able to reach.

Just remember, stretching is a lifetime commitment and needs to be continued in order to give your muscles and joints full flexibility potential.

Are There Any Precautions For Seniors When Stretching With Arthritic Joints?

This highly depends on your medical history and how severe your arthritis is in your joints. If you have health issues that involve your heart, your lungs, your circulatory system, your spine (i.e. herniated discs, sciatica, degenerative disc disease), or your bones (osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis), consult with your doctor prior to starting a rigorous stretch routine.

If you recently underwent hip replacement surgery or knee replacement surgery, talk to your doctor about your joint precautions and movement limitations. Some stretches can do more harm than good in these circumstances.

If you already have balance issues, take the proper steps to prevent loss of balance and falls while stretching. Stretch in a sitting position or balance yourself using a wall or stationery object (i.e. grab bar, countertop, etc., wall, etc.).

If you are nervous about stretching alone, set up a time to stretch with a friend or a relative that can supervise you but also help keep you motivated.

If you have health issues, monitor your blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate prior to and after your stretch routine.



Stretch now and stretch often to prevent unwanted health problems, muscle stiffness, and joint pain.

Commit to a regular routine that works for you and keeps your body moving. Consult with a professional if you have questions about your own health or about how to get started.

About Samuel

Samuel is a physical therapist with over 20 years medical experience. He has extensive knowledge in functional rehabilitation in the acute care hospital and in-home care settings. He has spent most of his career helping seniors transition from hospital or rehab care to living independently at home. In his free time he likes to travel and read autobiographies.

Follow Me

Leave a reply

By commenting, you agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.