The Importance of Flexibility as We Age

It is important to maintain flexibility and range of motion as we age so that our bodies can react to stress and avoid injury. Drinking water, exercising, moving and stretching are all ways to stay flexible.

As we age, we’re not as flexible as when we were younger. Why is that?

Dr. Scott Gardner: I believe it is because we tend to lose flexibility mostly because of lack of use. People spend more and more time sitting, whether it’s sitting around being a couch potato or at work sitting and working on a computer all day. Technology is really affecting flexibility at an alarming rate.

In what areas of the body is flexibility affected the most by our age?

Dr. Scott Gardner: I would say the spine and the hamstrings are the areas that show the greatest loss of flexibility as we age. It amazes me when I ask someone to stand and touch their toes, and how most people can’t do that simple task. A lot of times the person will say to me, “Geez, I can’t remember the last time I even tried to do that.”

Why is it so important to try to maintain flexibility or try to regain it as we age?

Dr. Scott Gardner: The more flexible we are, the better our bodies can react to a stress. Our bodies tend to move in a certain pattern unless we expose it to different ranges of motion. If an individual ends up in an auto accident or they have a fall or a sudden quick movement, if their body is not used to moving at a normal range, they are going to be exposed to greater injury.

What are some exercises people can do to improve flexibility?

Dr. Scott Gardner: We can keep it simple with a general stretching program with as little as five minutes per day. We can also add in the use of some tools like a foam roller, which is great for decreasing muscle tension. It’s kind of like doing a self massage at home. Yoga is something I recommend because not only does it increase strength and flexibility, but it also really helps with balance, which as we age, balance becomes something that really, really diminishes.

What are some easy things people can do to maintain flexibility on a daily basis?

Dr. Scott Gardner: I would say the first thing is drink more water. Our muscles crave water, and most of us don’t drink nearly enough water. A general rule is take your body weight and cut it in half, and that’s the minimum number of ounces we require per day. Move as much as you can throughout the day. If you just sit at your workstation all day long and you get up for lunch and you get up to go home, that’s not enough. You really need to move more and more. You know, one of my favorite quotes is, “Life is motion and motion is life.” The more we move, the more life we breathe into our body, then the more we actually want to move. We want to make sure that we’re adding some flexibility work as well.

Learn More

If you are interested in speaking with Dr. Scott Gardner visit www.gardnerfamilychiro.com or call 973-614-9256 to schedule an appointment.

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