While physiotherapy will not stop the ageing process, it can help to reduce its impact on our bodies and our lives. Physiotherapy has been demonstrated to improve many factors associated with ageing including strength, balance, coordination, flexibility and pain levels.
Overall, research has shown that physiotherapy helps older adults maintain their health, well-being, functional ability and independence. Often physiotherapy exercises provided to help with problems such as muscle strain and arthritis can also be used as a preventative measure.
Muscle strain is a common problem with over 50’s, often caused by poor muscle tone and atrophy resulting from a lack of exercise. The most common location of muscular problems is the neck, lower back and shoulder. Incidents of muscle strain often occur following an activity that you have not attempted for a while or is performed for a longer than usual.
Here are a selection of physiotherapy exercises, particularly stretching exercises, that will help provide relief from common problems and help prevent their return in the future. Physiotherapy exercises are not generally intended to be strenuous.
These exercises are intended to help prevent injury and loosen up your body – if you are looking to treat any pain or condition, it is probably a good idea to make an appointment with your GP or local physiotherapist so that they can assess your condition and make personal recommendations.
Knee to Chest Stretch
To perform this exercise lie on your back and bring one of your knees up to your chest. Grasp hold of your knee and hold this position for a count of ten. Now repeat for the move with the other leg. Do three to five stretches per side.
Remain on your back for the next exercise and fold your hands behind your head. Then lift your knees into a bent position and slowly roll your bent knees over to one side and hold this position for a count of ten. Next, roll your knees to the other side for another count of ten. Repeat this set of movements three times.
Still on your back with your arms placed at your sides, bend your knees, while keeping your feet flat on the floor. Tense your stomach muscles while holding your back flat against the floor and lift your pelvis slightly. Maintain this position for a slow count of five. Repeat the movement five times.
Move onto your hands and knees, placing your knees directly under your hips and your wrists directly under your shoulders.
Starting with a straight back, slowly round your spine toward the ceiling like an angry cat while tucking your tailbone and letting your head sink towards the floor. Next, reverse the movement, by lifting your tailbone towards the ceiling while your chest moves forward, your back arches, and your abdomen moves towards the floor. Repeat moving slowly back and forth between the two positions ten times.
Bottom to heels stretch
Remaining on all fours, in exactly the same starting position as for the last exercise, slowly move your bottom backwards towards your heels. Hold this stretch for a count of five and return to the starting position. Repeat the exercise ten times.
Stand on One Leg
Finally, facing a wall and supporting yourself with one hand, bend your leg up behind you and then grasp your ankle. Hold this position for a count of five and then switch over to the other leg. Repeat the exercise three times.
Turn your neck
Ensure that your jaw is maintained at the same height throughout the exercise, slowly turn your neck towards one side and hold then the position for a count of five seconds. Then gently turn your neck to the other side and again hold for a count of five seconds. Repeat the exercise five times.
Tilt your neck downwards until your chin is touching your chest. Hold this position for a count of five seconds and then return to the original position. Repeat the exercise five times.
Tilt your neck sideways towards your shoulders and hold that position for five seconds. Then return your head to the centre before tilting your neck to the other side and again holding the position for five seconds. Repeat the exercise 5 times for each side.
Maintaining a straight backed posture, push your neck forward and pull your shoulders together in alignment. Hold the position for five seconds feeling the stretch on your neck muscles. Gently return to your original position. Repeat the exercise five times.
Shoulder (Rotator Cuff) Exercises
Lean forward and place one hand on a counter or table for support and let your other arm hang freely at your side. Next, gently swing your arm forward and back and then swing your arm from side-to-side, and repeat again in a circular motion. Then repeat the entire sequence with the other arm. Do ten repetitions for each arm.
Overhead Stretch for the Shoulders
Next, take hold of the counter or table and with your knees slightly bent, bend forward with your arms straight, lowering your upper body allowing your shoulders to stretch. As you lower your body it may be necessary to take a step back to keep your arms straight.
Hold the position for thirty seconds then stand up and relax. Repeat four times.
Stand sideways on to a wall so that your fingers can just touch it. Walk the fingers of your injured arm up the wall as far as the pain allows. Hold that position for a count of twenty and then walk your fingers back down to the starting position. Repeat the exercise four times, trying to reach higher each time.
Posterior Stretching Exercise for the Shoulder
Take hold of the elbow of your injured arm with your opposite hand and then use this hand to pull your injured arm gently up and across your body. You should feel a gentle stretch across the back of your injured shoulder. Hold the position for thirty seconds, then slowly lower your arm. Repeat four times.