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Stretch it out

Stretch it out

There are a few simple stretches that can help keep us limber as we age. Ferhaan Nana, personal trainer and owner of Hybrid Strength Studio in Melbourne, shares a few tips.

Our bodies, beyond our skin and hair, are formed from millions of cells making up our muscle fibres, vital organs and various tendons and ligaments. Cells are living organisms, which means like any other living cell, movement, growth and nourishment are important for them to stay healthy and strong. Our bodies were made to move, and keeping our brains busy helps create longevity and improves brain functionality.

As we get older and mature, we find it harder to recover and certain tasks become more challenging. This is due to a number of changes our bodies go through. Research has shown that exposing our bodies to regular movement or stretches aids in better cognitive functionality, releasing powerful endorphins. Apart from the “feel good hormones” released, our bodies get the opportunity to stretch the muscle fascia, allowing more oxygen and red blood cells to flow through.

Our muscles and tendons are best thought of as an elastic band; if we leave these bands exposed to the sun over a period of time without using them on a regular basis, a thin, brittle layer forms around the band making it highly susceptible to snapping or tearing. However, should that band be used on a regular basis, it would keep its form and its elasticity, increasing its life.

Similarly, by adding regular stretching and/or light training exercise to your daily routine, you’ll keep your joints and muscles healthy.

If it has been a while since you’ve engaged in regular training or exercise, it can be quite intimidating, which often leads to procrastination. Therefore, starting simple stretching at home can be a great way to get your body moving.

Bending over and touching your toes while holding for a brief moment is a great exercise to start with. This gives you an opportunity to stretch the majority of your posterior chain muscles, such as your hamstrings, glutes and lower back. To increase the stretch, hold a light weight in both hands and allow gravity to do the rest.

Using a chair or even a wall for stability, we can stretch the quads and hip flexors. This is extremely good for those who spend a lot of time sitting. While standing against your preferred pivot point, stand on one leg and grab your ankle behind you; from here, progress to driving that knee down to the ground, which will help with the tighter muscles.

The next exercise will take you down to the floor lying on your back. From this position, lift up one leg, keeping it bent at the knee while keeping your belly button facing the ceiling. Proceed to grab your raised leg and pull it over your hip to the opposite side. This is great for people who suffer with stiffness in their backs or the back of their legs.

The last one is a simple shoulder and chest stretch allowing you to release tension in the pectoral area. Finding a wall or door, gently place your open hand against the point, palm facing. Gently turn your body away from the wall, which might pull through your shoulder. Keep it gentle to avoid over stretching.

We generally advise that the stretches be carried out two to three times a week, holding each stretch for about 15-20 seconds and then resting that group of muscles.

Once you’ve made your foray into basic stretching, the next stage from here could be regular exercise, such as yoga, Pilates, or perhaps increasing your walking distance.
If you find this all still achievable, perhaps find out from your local gym if they run light classes.

Ferhaan Nana holds personal training sessions for seniors at his studio in Pascoe Vale. For more information, visit

“By adding regular stretching or light training exercise to your daily routine, you will keep your joints and muscles healthy”

Light stretching at home is a great way to get the hang of it before proceeding to classes such as yoga or Pilates