Yes, in a nutshell, stretching exercises can be helpful. In fact maintaining some simple stretching exercises decade to decade as we age can really help keep us moving more easily and more safely. Losing some of our joint mobility as we age contributes to having more difficulty getting around and can increase our risk for falling. It is possible to maintain some flexibility as we get older, by focusing on a few key areas such as the lower back, the hamstrings along the back of the thigh and the calf muscles.
Here are a couple examples to get you started on stretching these important areas.
In terms of how stretching fits in with athletic activities, a controversy developed when it was believed that stretching was not beneficial and would inhibit athletic performance. However, what was shown from some studies was that stretching may not prevent injuries but can aide in recovery, and it is possible to improve flexibility. Some studies did indeed find that static stretching right before an athletic activity can inhibit muscle performance temporarily (only affecting performance for ~ 15 minutes). Taking all this into account, the best times to perform stretching would be after an exercise session when the body is warm and it won’t affect the athletic activity. The stretch should be held for at least 30 seconds and repeated 4-5 times. With stretching it’s more about quality then quantity. It can also still be helpful to stretch at times unrelated to athletic activity and improvement can be made with as little as 3 times per week. Any stretching is better than none at all.
If your stretching routine does not seem to be helping or you are experiencing pain, do not hesitate to seek help. We offer free consultations at any of our 14 convenient locations and are here to help you determine a more personalized treatment plan if these basic stretches do not work for you.