All sorts of good things can come to us as we grow older, including a taste for the “finer things” in life, whatever our personal predilection may be. But when our pleasures become primarily sedentary – fine dining, choice wine, spa retreats, relaxing holidays in the sun – our fitness levels and general mobility can take a major hit. Think classic car: care for it, nurture it, lubricate it lovingly on a regular basis and it will give you many years of enjoyment. With our body, it’s pretty much the same and keeping joints and muscles mobile and flexible will mean you can live life to the full for many years to come.
So, don’t be disheartened when you wake up feeling a bit stiffer than in your younger days. The good news is: however achy we may feel each morning, it’s never too late to develop a mobility regime that can get pretty much our full range of motion back up and running. And doing so now will reap huge benefits for later life with improved mobility a huge contributory factor in reducing pain and helping prevent falls as we age.
Let’s look now at some simple exercises to start out with which will help hugely in improving our mobility and reducing those general aches and pains that can become more prevalent in our fifties and beyond.
Some of Our Favourite Mobility Exercises
1. Sideways Leg Lift
Position yourself behind a chair and rest your hands on the back for stability.
Keeping your back and hips straight, slowly raise your left leg to the side as far as is comfortable. Avoid tilting to the right as you do so.
Return your left leg slowly to the floor and repeat with your right leg.
Raise and lower each leg 5 times.
2. Leg Extension
Holding the back of a chair, stand upright.
Now raise your left leg backwards, keeping it as straight as possible and extending your foot in line with your leg. Hold the full extension for up to 5 seconds.
Slowly return your left leg to the start position and repeat with your right leg.
Perform 5 times for each leg.
3. Chest Stretch
Sit forward on a chair with your feet placed flat on the floor in line with your hips.
Using your shoulder muscles, not your arms, pull your shoulders back and down, feeling the muscles tauten as you do so.
Slowly extend your arms at each side, feeling your chest stretch in the process. Hold for between 5 to 10 seconds before returning to your start position.
Repeat 5 times.
4. Upper Body Twist
Sit upright on a chair with your feet flat on the floor, again in line with your hips.
Reach across your chest for the opposite shoulder with each hand, crossing your arms in the process.
Keeping your gaze fixed forward, turn your upper body to the left as far as is comfortable. Do not swivel your hips as you do so.
Hold for 5 seconds then repeat for the other side.
Do this 5 times for each twist.
5. Neck Rotation
Sit yourself on a chair, back straight, shoulders down, looking straight ahead.
Rotate your head slowly to the left as far is comfortable. Hold for 5 seconds before returning to the original position.
Repeat the rotation to the right.
Complete 3 rotations on each side.
6. Neck Stretch
In a seated position with back straight and gazing directly ahead, grasp your left shoulder with your right hand and hold it in place.
Now tilt your head slowly to the right, with your right hand holding your left shoulder down. Maintain this position for 5 seconds then perform for the other side.
Repeat the full process 3 times in total.
7. Around the World
Start from a standing position, back straight, knees slightly bent.
Raise your arms towards the sky as far as they will comfortably go.
Now, with arms still outstretched, slowly bend your upper body to the left, feeling the muscles on the left side of your body squeeze together as you do so.
Hold for 5 seconds.
Slowly swing your arms and body back through this motion, carrying on in an arc down your right hand side. Hold for 5 seconds.
Repeat Around the World 5 times in total.
8. Hip Flow
Crouch on the ground on all fours, hands aligned with shoulders, fingers facing forwards, gaze straight ahead.
Stretch the left leg directly out to the side, driving the heel into the ground as you do so. Feel the tension in your left thigh muscle and, keeping the muscle flexed, move your hips backwards as far as is possible without bending or arching the spine.
Hold for 5 seconds before returning to the start position and repeating for the other side.
Perform 5 to 10 times per side.
9. Segmental Cat Cow
What a name!! To start this glorious mobility exercise, kneel on the floor, knees aligned with your hips, toes pressed into the ground, pointing towards your body, hands at shoulder-width facing forwards. Hold your spine in a neutral position avoiding any sagging of the stomach or arching of the back.
To commence the cat phase, gently breathe out, contracting your abdominal muscles as you do so, drawing in your bottom and raising your spine curved and upwards towards the ceiling like a Halloween black cat. Allow your head to fall gently, maintaining alignment with the spine in the process.
Hold for 10 to 15 seconds.
Now comes the cow phase as you slowly relax, letting your stomach descend towards the floor, increasing the arch in the lower back in the process and raising your head and gaze towards the sky.
Hold for 10 to 15 seconds before returning to the start position and repeating 5 times.
Give it a Go!
So there we go: a few exercises to get that mobility up and running again. Remember, it’s never too late to get started. And, as with that classic car, use it, maintain it and it will serve you well for many years to come!
So give them a go today.