THE CHEST STRETCH: This exercise is good for seniors as it doesn't require much activity but has amazing benefits when done regularly, and is particularly beneficial for those with limited range of motion in the upper extremities. No equipment needed! After doing this exercise for a few weeks, you should see an improvement in how strong you upper body feels. Also, this stretch has been proven to help improve the ventilation in your lungs by increasing rib mobility, which then reduces the work of the lungs for inspiration and expiration.
STRETCHING GUIDELINES: It is recommended you perform stretches 3-5 days weekly, hold each stretch for a minimum of 30 seconds, and repeat as your body allows. A total of 5-15 minutes of stretching is recommended to begin to see improvements, exceeding this length of time has also been shown to result in greater improvements. A stretch should fell like a small pull in your body, however you should NOT experience any pain. If you are experiencing pain, decrease the angle of the stretch back to a place of no pain. It is important to NOT bounce during a stretch, this causes risk of injury.
PROGRESSION: Once you have mastered this exercise and have seen personal improvement, you can increase the intensity of the exercise by assuming the position, and then slowly leaning left and right while practicing deep breathing techniques.
SYMMETRY: You want to always practice symmetric movements to maintain balance and body stability. This means what you do to the left side, you do the same to the right side. The only exception to this rule is if your body strength or flexibility is uneven at the start of your training. In this case, it may be recommended you perform slightly longer stretches on the weaker side to move towards a more balanced body state.
FUN FACT: Imbalances from the left to right side tend to be more prevalent in women over men, due to the fact that they often carry bags more frequently, with one preferred arm.
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