Stretching your muscles is always important, but it becomes especially essential as you age and naturally lose some of your flexibility. If you’re looking to stay limber in middle age, stretching each morning is one fantastic way to achieve that. As certified trainer and founder of Runstreet Marnie Kunz tells us, “it’s important to stretch when you’re over 40 because it helps you stay mobile and improve your joint range of motion. Our muscles get tight and lose range of motion when we are sitting or standing in the same position for too long, and, combined with past injuries that make muscles tight and limit the range of motion, this can impede our movement and ability to do daily activities as we get older.”
We spoke to Kunz to learn more about the importance of stretching and discover her top choices to try each morning. Below are three of the best stretches to boost flexibility and reduce your risk of injury as you age: shoulder rolls, trunk twists, and quad stretches.
1. Shoulder rolls
If flexibility in your arms is what you’re after, Kunz says some simple shoulder rolls can do the trick. “Shoulder rolls help increase the range of motion in your upper back and arms,” she explains.
Luckily, completing this stretch is as easy as it sounds: all you have to do is bring your shoulders up and roll them forward for 10 reps. After that, switch directions by rolling them backwards for 10 more. It’s really as straightforward as that—and it can make all the difference in how your arms and shoulders feel throughout the day!
2. Trunk twists
Flexibility in your lower back is just as important as flexibility in your arms and legs, which is why Kunz recommends doing some daily trunk twists. “These help prevent lower back pain and sciatic nerve pain,” she tells us. Nice!
Here’s how it’s done: First, start sitting on the floor with your legs in front of you. Kunz says you should “cross your right foot over your left leg so that your foot rests on the ground.” Then, twist your upper body to the right and rest your left arm on the outside of your right knee. “Twist your upper body and push against your knee until you feel your butt stretch,” she instructs, noting that you should hold this pose for 20 seconds before repeating on the other side.
3. Quad stretches
If you frequently feel inflexible when sitting up or standing down, it’s time to start stretching your quads. Kunz tells us that quad stretches “are important to keep your quads limber.” They can make a huge difference!
This stretch is quite simple—all you need is yourself and a wall. “To do a quad stretch, stand facing a wall with your hand on the wall for support,” Kunz says. “Bend one knee and bring your foot up toward your butt, holding the top of your foot with one hand.” You should stay like this for 20 seconds before moving onto your next leg. Easy peasy!
So, there you have it: three simple stretches to promote flexibility throughout your day. These take practically no time at all, require zero equipment, and can keep you comfortable, so why wouldn’t you make them part of your morning routine? We know we will!