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Everyday Stretching

February 9, 2015

As you age, stretching continues to be important, even if you're less active. Your joints become less flexible over time. Inflexibility puts a crimp in daily acts, making it harder to walk, raise your arms overhead, or turn your head while backing up the car. It undermines balance, too, which can cause life-altering falls.

As with all types of exercise, you need to engage in stretching regularly in order to reap lasting benefits. If you only stretch occasionally, the effects are shortlived. One study found that the greatest increase in hamstring length occurred right after the stretch and began to diminish within 15 seconds, though there was a noticeable effect for up to 24 hours. A daily regimen will deliver the greatest gains, but typically, you can expect lasting improvement in flexibility if you stretch at least two or three times a week.

In the videos below, you'll find examples of static stretches that can be worked into any exercise or stretching routines. Some options will be easier for you, so you can increase or decrease the challenge. To increase it, try substituting a harder option. To make the stretch easier, add a pillow or rolled towel or use a stretch strap.

Floor Hip Flexor

Floor hamstring with Strap

Full body stretch

Double Knee Torso Rotation

Cat, Cow

Child's Pose

Downward Dog

Standing Calf

Stretching is an excellent thing you can do for your health. To discover simple, yet effective moves that can help you limber up for sports, improve your balance and prevent falls, increase your flexibility, and even help relieve arthritis, back, and knee pain, checkout the Stretching Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.

Disclaimer:

As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

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