While we age, certain muscle groups tend to become tighter than others. For women over 50, the most common areas of tightness are the hamstrings, hip flexors, feet, chest, and shoulders. This is due to a combination of factors, including inactivity, hormonal changes, and reduced collagen production.
There are many ways to combat muscle and mobility loss. Stretching and conditioning are two crucial ingredients for maintaining and improving flexibility and mobility for women in their 50’s. In this article we explain the benefits of each training regimen and what can be achieved through each route.
Stretching involves moving muscles and joints through their full range of motion to enhance flexibility and prevent muscle imbalances.
Here are some benefits of stretching:
1. Improved flexibility: Stretching helps to lengthen tight muscles, allowing for greater range of motion and flexibility.
2. Reduced risk of injury: Tight muscles are more prone to injury. Stretching can help prevent injuries by improving the elasticity of muscles and tendons.
3. Improved posture: Tight muscles can pull the body out of alignment, leading to poor posture. Stretching can help improve posture by releasing tension in tight muscles.
4. Reduced muscle soreness: Stretching can help reduce muscle soreness and stiffness after exercise.
5. Improved circulation: Stretching increases blood flow to the muscles, which can help improve circulation and reduce muscle fatigue.
DO YOU NEED TO STRETCH?
Signs that you could benefit from stretching include stiffness, reduced range of motion, and a feeling of tightness in your muscles. Nevertheless, it’s important to note that soreness is not always a sign that stretching is needed, and in fact, many people don’t experience soreness after stretching.
Effective stretches to start with for women over 50 include hamstring stretches, hip flexor stretches, and chest stretches. Of course, It’s always important to use proper technique and not push yourself too hard when starting out. A Physiotherapist can provide guidance on technique and appropriate stretches for your body.
To see the best results, aim to stretch at least 2-3 times per week. Research shows that stretching for 10-30 seconds per muscle group, 2-4 times per stretch, is optimal for improving flexibility.
Signs that you’re getting more flexible include being able to move through a greater range of motion without discomfort or stiffness. Effective stretches at an intermediate level include the standing quad stretch, the seated spinal twist, and the downward-facing dog pose.
Good mobility and flexibility goals for women over 50 include being able to touch your toes, perform a deep squat, and maintain good posture throughout the day. These goals are realistic and achievable with consistent stretching and practice, along with other types of physical activity like resistance training and aerobic exercise.
Accessories such as straps, blocks, and bolsters can be helpful for modifying stretches and providing support during stretching exercises. A physiotherapist can provide guidance on the best accessories for your needs and how to use them correctly to improve your flexibility and mobility.
WHAT ABOUT STRENGTH?
For women in their 50s, resistance training and strength work can be especially beneficial in maintaining mobility and strength. Regular exercise of this type also protects the joints from unnecessary impact. As women age, they experience a decline in muscle mass and strength, which can lead to a decrease in mobility and an increased risk of falls and fractures.
Resistance training can help combat these age-related changes by building muscle mass and improving muscle function. It can also help improve balance and coordination, reducing the risk of falls.
Strength training can also be beneficial for maintaining bone health, as women in their 50s are at an increased risk of osteoporosis. Strength training can help increase bone density, reducing the risk of fractures.
When starting a resistance training program, it’s important to start with lighter weights and progress gradually. A Physiotherapist or Strength & Conditioning Coach can provide guidance on the best exercises and technique for your body and help create a program that is safe and effective.
Incorporating resistance training and strength work into your routine 2-3 times per week can have significant benefits for maintaining mobility and strength in women in their 50s. Along with stretching and other physical activity, these practices can help support a healthy and active lifestyle as you age.
Age can limit your potential only if you stay inactive. A person that keeps moving will maintain their mobility and strength.
Interested to know more about our Bespoke Plans of Care for women in their 50’s? Contact our Patient Care Team by clicking here.