As we age, our joints and muscles don’t work as well as they used to. This is why staying active is such an essential part of getting older. Having other folks to keep busy with is a significant benefit of living in a senior’s community.
While staying active is critical to good health, sometimes we need to focus on certain areas of our body. For example, tight hips commonly bring many people discomfort in their golden years, and regular walks aren’t always enough.
Regular stretching is another way to combat tight hips and even help prevent it from happening in the first place. If you’re unable to perform stretches yourself, there is typically assistance available for these types of daily activities if you live in an assisted living community.
Physical Activity to Release Tight Hips in Seniors
An aging adult isn’t usually able to exercise at the same level as a young adult or child, and they certainly can’t play aggressive sports for physical activity. So, how does a senior stay safely active?
Daily walks are an incredibly simple way for seniors to stay healthy. There is no right or wrong way to walk as far as speed or distance; whatever anyone can do safely is better than nothing.
The CDC recommends that people over the age of 65 walk briskly for a minimum of 150 minutes per week. This works out to around 30 minutes per day, 5 days a week. If the person can perform more rigorous activities like hiking or jogging, the CDC recommends a weekly minimum of 75 minutes.
Walking is a great start, but other things will contribute to good muscle and joint health. At least 2 days a week, a senior should be performing light, muscle-strengthening workouts.
In addition to muscle strengthening, improving and maintaining good balance is also important. Our bones and joints don’t withstand impact very well as we age. So, it’s important that we remain stable on our feet to minimize the chances of slips and trips.
Again these exercises should only be performed to the limits of each person. It’s best to consult a physician or physical therapist before beginning any exercise routine.
Stretching to Release Tight Hips in Seniors
In addition to generally staying active and healthy, there are several different stretches that we will look at that can target tight hips specifically.
Some slight discomfort as the muscle stretches and relaxes is normal during these stretches. But sharp or piercing pain is not normal, nor is tingling or numbness. If you experience any of these things, stop immediately and discuss your stretching options with a doctor or physical therapist before proceeding.
Performing a standing lunge is a great exercise that targets the front hip flexors. This is an especially good exercise for seniors who experience pain in their lower back.
- Start in a standing position with hands on your hips and feet shoulder-width apart.
- Step forward 1 to 2 feet, depending on your flexibility level.
- Bend slowly at the knee of the leg you stepped forward with and lift the opposite heel off the floor.
- Lean forward and flex the glute in the rear leg; hold for 30 to 90 seconds.
- Carefully stand upright and repeat for the opposite leg.
Placing your hands on a wall or holding a chair may help you maintain balance and good form. Also, only “lunge” as low as you comfortably can without straining to return to a standing position.
Prone Leg Raise
Not only does this exercise help work your core muscles, but it can also help relieve pain from tight hips. The most common way to perform this exercise is by lying face down on a mat.
- Lay face down on a comfortable mat or carpet.
- Suck in your stomach and tighten your core.
- Slowly raise one leg until you feel the stretch—focus on keeping your core and buttocks tight while raising the leg.
- Hold your leg up for 3 to 5 seconds.
- Repeat with the other leg.
- Repeat the stretch 10 times.
It’s not ideal, but if you can’t comfortably lay on the ground (even with a mat), you can perform this stretch on your bed. Ideally, the mattress will be as firm as possible, though.
Side Leg Raise
This leg raise is very similar to the prone leg raise, except you’re on your side. You can perform this one successfully on your bed, a mat, or a carpeted floor—wherever you are most comfortable.
- Find a comfortable spot on your side—stabilize yourself with your forearm if needed.
- Raise your leg as high as you can without pain. When you reach your max height, bring it back down.
- Repeat the leg raise around 5 times, then repeat on the opposite side.
Side note: slow is critical here. For example, If you can only lift your leg 6 inches when doing it slowly, then only do 6 inches.
Finding Out More About Assisted Living
If you’re concerned that you or a loved one will be unable to maintain a healthy amount of activity as you or they age, reach out to Paragon Village Senior Living today. Our compassionate staff is happy to answer any questions about the quality of care you can expect. You can also book a tour to see the community.