12:18 PM

Your Approach to Stretching Should Change As You Age. Here’s How

Well+ Good explains the importance of stretching as you get older in an interview with Kassandra Reagan, DPT, CSCS, physical therapist at HSS.

When it comes to the best stretches to do and how to get the max benefits out of them, Reagan said the research varies. "There are conflicting suggestions on when to use them, and mismatched information on the duration to which you need to hold/perform them," she said. "However, the benefits seem to be agreed upon and the purpose and goal remains consistent: It will help your joints move through their full range of motion, increase muscle blood flow, and enable your muscles to work most effectively."

As you get older, the benefits of stretching stay the same, but the importance of it changes, according to Reagan. "There are physiological changes that occur—some specific to our muscles," she explained. "They lose strength and power, decrease in mass, decline in endurance, and flexibility becomes more limited." Taken together, these changes can end up limiting our functional abilities in day-to-day life, and increasing our risk of falling, getting injured, or simply being in pain.

Reagan noted stretching is an excellent way to combat these natural effects of aging and improve our general health and wellness. "What you should focus on are stretches that will help you obtain the proper range, postures, and positions necessary for your desired activities," adding, depending on what you want to be able to do, your stretches may vary. But a nonspecific full-body stretching routine can also be very beneficial for your general health.”

There are different types of stretches (six major ones, in fact), but the most common are static and dynamic stretching. Both are effective ways of increasing flexibility. "Static is when you stretch a muscle near its end point for an extended period of time, usually around 30 seconds. Dynamic stretches are more active where the muscle and joints go through their range of motion," explained Reagan. For the latter, you may perform the same stretch multiple times, but only hold it for two or three seconds each rep.

Read the full article at wellandgood.com.