The Seniors Stretching Plan
By Categories: Stretching For SeniorsLast Updated: July 24, 2023

Understanding the Importance of Stretching for Seniors

The human body is amazingly engineered to maximize our potential to survive and thrive. Our bodies are constructed so that our foundational structure, bones, can move in patterns that help us hunt, consume, pro-create and continue the species moving forward. We have 360 joints in the human body that help promote movement to assist with these tasks. Participating in a stretching program can help alleviate [joint pain] and improve flexibility in the [upper body], as well as provide many other [Real-Life Benefits] such as reducing the [risk of injury] and improving [mental health].

Each joint in our body contains an optimal range of motion to participate in these movements. For example, our knee joint is a simple ‘hinge’ joint. It basically straightens and bends. The ‘normal’ range of motion of the knee joint is 0 to 135 degrees of bending. This is just one example of our joints promoting movement. The human body functions at its optimum capacity when all of these joints move in their anatomically ‘proper’ range of motion.

Scientific Validation of the Positive Effects of Daily Stretching on Body Function and Tissue Strength

Why are we asked to participate in a stretching program? What is the advantage of being flexible?

When healthcare professionals stress the importance of ‘stretching’ or improving your ‘flexibility,’ we ask you to help your body optimize our anatomically ‘proper’ range of motion. For example, if your knee cannot fully straighten, you will walk with a limp. Which will affect your ability to walk efficiently, thus negatively impacting your efficiency and tolerance to walk normally, thus affecting many other necessary daily tasks.

Stretching one of the important forms of exercise that can provide numerous benefits to seniors. It can help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease. In my opinion, the best stretching plan for seniors is to address flexibility in all of the body’s major joints, along with addressing specific smaller joints that are impaired. You will always be safe and more functional if you maintain your body’s flexibility in your ankles, knees, hips, spine, and shoulders. If you can achieve flexibility in these regions, you are allowing yourself the best chance to optimize your functional capacity.

The Benefits of Maintaining Flexibility in Major Joints

The following is an article I have reviewed from the Journal of Physiology published in the National Library of Medicine in May of 2018. This article validates the importance of daily stretching. The article scientifically validates how daily stretching can improve body functions, increase new arterial growth and blood flow to body tissues, and improve body tissue strength overall, especially as we age.

A Seniors Stretching Plan for Optimal Functional Capacity

Here is a seniors stretching plan to address all these regions:


1) Seated or Standing Wall
Stretch for Bilateral Shoulder flexion and abduction

You may place one or both hands on the doorway or wall while holding a towel to decrease friction. While facing the wall or doorway, slowly elevate arm or arms up until a stretch is felt in the shoulders, slowly lower and repeat

Seniors Stretching Plan Seniors Stretching Plan for Optimal Functional Capacity Shoulder Stretching

3 sets of 10 repetitions, gentle to moderate stretch


2) Single Knee to Chest Stretch

While lying face up, bring your knee up towards your chest and grasp your leg to assist bringing your knee towards your chest. You should feel a stretch in your buttock or towards the back of the pelvis near your same side lower back.

Single Knee to Chest Stretch

3 Sets of 1-Minute Hold

3) Supine or Seated Piriformis (Glute) Stretch

(Glute) Stretch Supine or Seated Piriformis

While laying on your back, keep your shoulder blades down and your leg crossed on top of your opposite knee. Gently bring your knee up and towards the opposite shoulder. A stretch is felt in the buttock. You may also do it in a more seated position, as shown. Choose only one.

3 sets of 1-minute holds


4) Supine Lumbar Rotations, Slow and Controlled

Supine Lumbar Rotations

Lying on your back with your knees bent, gently move your knees to the side and then move your knees to the other side. Only move through a comfortable range of motion. Keep your shoulder blades down.

3 sets of 10 repetitions


5) Supine or Long Sitting Hamstring Stretch

Supine or Long Sitting Hamstring Stretch Hamstring Stretch - The Seniors Stretching Plan

While lying on your back, hold the back of your knee/thigh area and straighten your knee until a stretch is felt along the back of your leg.

Sit on your bed or sofa and prop your leg up on it. While keeping your knee and back straight, slowly lean forward until a stretch is felt at the back of your thigh. Choose only one

3 sets of 1-minute holds

6) Lunge Hip Flexor Stretch Next to Table/Wall for Support

Lunge Hip Flexor Stretch Next to Table_Wall for Support

Standing tall next to a wall or sturdy table, step one foot backward with a straight knee. Gently bend the knee of your front leg and squeeze your buttock until you feel a gentle stretch in the front of your hip of the leg that is behind you.

3 sets of 1-minute holds


7) Side Lying or Standing Quad Stretch

Side Lying or Standing Quad Stretch Standing Quad Stretch

Begin lying on your side with your legs straight. Bend your upper leg, and grab hold of your foot to pull it toward your buttocks until you feel a stretch in the front of your thigh and hold. While standing, bend your knee back behind you and hold your ankle/foot. Gently pull until a stretch is felt on the front of the thigh. Pick which one you like; no need to do both.

3 sets of 1-minute holds


8) Long Sitting or Wall Gastrocnemius Stretch

Long Sitting or Wall Gastrocnemius Stretch Wall Gastrocnemius Stretch

Have your leg out in front of you, place a towel/rope/belt around your foot near your toes, and gently pull back using your arms until a stretch is felt at the back of the lower leg. You may also stand with your arms on the wall. Place the target leg behind you, keeping your heel down until a stretch is felt in the back of your lower leg. Pick which one you like; no need to do both.

3 sets of 1-minute holds

We educate our customers in all of our exercise programs that stretching can be completed daily or just as needed to feel more flexible and efficient with all of your daily tasks. Whether these tasks include household mobility and chores or even with rigorous outdoor recreational activities, you will feel a positive impact within days. Give them a try and see for yourself.

What time of day is best? Good question. These activities are safe to do anytime that works for you. However, my favorite is after a short bout of activity such as walking, easy biking, or other activity that helps your body warm up and get blood to those targeted regions for even more effectiveness.

All of our physical therapy programs will specifically target these regions to help you maximize your functionality.

If you have any questions, please email us at:

Dr. Marty

dr marty sanchez - The Seniors Stretching Plan
Dr. Marty Sanchez is a licensed Physical Therapist and owner of Desire Wellness where he, and his wife, Dr. Emily Sanchez have teamed up with other primary care providers to bring multiple resources for healing, improved vitality and mobility. Dr. Marty received his Doctor of Physical Therapy from Azusa Pacific University in 2005. Follow Dr. Marty Sanchez on Facebook and LinkedIn


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