Stretch today to keep range of motion tomorrow | NevadaAppeal.com

Stretch today to keep range of motion tomorrow

Jerry Vance
For the Appeal

If you were to graph your daily movements, chances are it would not include movements that encompass a wide range of motion. And I’ll bet your daily routine would look extremely repetitious with hours spent sitting or standing. Unfortunately, this is more the norm today than it was 10 or 20 years ago.

As you age, your type of lifestyle also changes. What used to be easy for you to accomplish in your 20s seems impossible when you hit 50.

Unfortunately, as you age so does your lifestyle. You cut down on physical activity, and slowly decrease your living pattern. More “at home” projects, and less interaction with the outside world, you watch more television and more spectator sports. Because this change is so gradual it goes unnoticed, and gradually you lose the ability to use your body in a full range of motion.

The simple task of turning your head to meet your shoulder can be painful, if not impossible. The ability to sit straight in a chair, or reach straight up over your head with both arms becomes uncomfortable. You lose the ability to put your hands back beyond your head without leaning your head forward. When was the last time you stretched your arm behind you to a parallel position with the floor?

These are all simple daily muscle, joint and ligament movements that become increasingly limited as you age. You may no longer be able to play baseball with the use of a full round arm swing, or complete a golf swing. Also, if you gain weight along with the natural aging process, it can have a resounding effect on your range of motion, especially if it is more than a few pounds. It’s hard to stretch to the toes if you can’t see them.

When you gradually decrease your scope of life, you decrease your abilities too. Unless you have some medical problem that limits your capabilities of movement, try to use your full range of movement daily.

Turn your head to look behind you instead of turning your whole body. Lean forward in your chair often and push out and arch the lower back. Flex your fingers every hour or so while you work at your desk. Give your wrists, shoulders and ankles a few turns now and then. If you want to have the same range of motion that you had at the age of 20 you need to work on it today.

• Jerry Vance is the owner of Sweat Shop/Wet Sweat. She offers classes through the Carson City Recreation and Aquatics Center and is a fitness instructor for the Carson City Senior Citizens Center.