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At HealthcareDirect we offer both group and individual exercise classes which include stretching as part of the session. Older adults adopt certain movement patterns and positioning as they age. For example if you sit for longer period during the day there is a change that you will be a little bit tighter at the back of the knees in the muscles known as the hamstrings. Often these movement patterns and acquired postures result in muscles and other soft tissue that is continuously held in a shortened or lengthened position.

Stretching is indicated to promote adaptation of shortened muscles to a more lengthened position to achieve better posture and movement patterns. Muscles held in shortened positions appear to have a biased muscle spindle that may lead to active and passive resistance to increased length, resulting in muscle imbalance during movement and even painful movement patterns. Research has shown that with increasing age and a loss of extensibility, effective stretching exercises require longer holding times. Although a 30-second hold is sufficient to achieve a long-term effect of muscle lengthening in a younger adult, 60 seconds is necessary for adult’s age 65 years and older.

Four repetitions of a 60-second hold performed regularly, 5 to 7 days a week, appear to be most effective. Some have suggested the use of ballistic or dynamic stretching to increase immediate muscle performance. Slow static stretching is likewise recommended for stretching the collagen tissue that is the substance of these structures.

Please contact us at Healthcare Direct and we can offer you expert advice on stretching.

Colin Taylor (Clinical Manager & Chartered Physiotherapist at Healthcare Direct)

Chartered Physiotherapist and Occupational Therapy support can be accessed at Healthcare Direct

Tel: 1850-749746 or Email: info@healthcaredirect.ie