Note From Carolyn:  I’ve taken a leave of absence from Meridian as my husband and I made the permanent cross-country move from our home of fve years in Tennessee to our family and roots in Utah.  But I’m back! The herbal detox that is so important to many Meridian readers is still available and probably more important than ever as flu and cold season arrive.  Click HERE to learn more and get $5 off with coupon code “MERIDIAN” 

We’ve stretched everything to the limit, it seems, since mid-March 2020 in this incredible year of years.  No matter who wins, half of us will be required to stretch beyond our disappointment in this hotly contested election and accept the winner.  The Lord expects this of us and it is He who is our true guide no matter who becomes our President.  “I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine. …. Ye know not the hearts of men in your own land … but if ye are prepared ye shall not fear.” (D&C 38: 27-29)

Since early 2020, whether we wanted to or not, we have been required to stretch spiritually, socially, mentally, emotionally and financially. For senior citizens, there’s another way to stretch that may impact our personal freedom and well-being just as much as any elected president or government leader — that is physically.

Now, I’m just a shortie, less than 5 feet to be honest.  I’m in my mid-60’s and also facing shrinking from Osteoporosis.  So far, I’m winning the battle and the links for my protocol are at the bottom of this article. As a teenager, when it was clear how short I was going to be, I can easily remember my Mom calling out, “Honey, if you’ll just reach and stretch for the top of that doorway every time you go through, you’ll grow!”  Haha!  I thought that was such a “Mom” thing to say, but she was correct in her understanding that stretching every day DOES change your body in extremely important ways for everyone, but especially critical for senior citizens.

Most of us have had experiences with senior citizens who have a very difficult time moving, getting dressed, etc.  Our family remembers taking Bernice, a special senior friend to a concert. She became absolutely frozen mid-way through getting into the back seat of our car.  With her feet on the curb as she got in head-first, she somehow became stretched lengthwise across the seat and was straddled between the car and curb!  We tried everything imaginable to get her fully into the car and into a seated position!  If it weren’t such a problem, it would have been very funny.  We seriously considered calling an ambulance or the fire department for help. Eventually she was able to pull herself into the car and we got her home.  What a night!

I recently stumbled onto a fascinating article that explains what happened that night and how the body becomes almost “frozen” in its own space.  It’s not because seniors can’t move, it’s because they haven’t moved. And there’s more to it than unused muscles – it’s all about stretching!

Lara Heimann, a physical therapist and yoga instructor, explains it this way:  “Many folks believe that stretching elongates your muscles, but that, my friends, is a myth. Instead, stretching mobilizes and lengthens the connective tissues surrounding your muscles, allowing both them and your joints to move more freely.”

“The fascial covering is the connective tissue that is a ubiquitous webbing that’s around everything in the body, including your muscles,” she continues.

“Each muscle group has individual muscle cells and there’s fascia that covers them, then all these muscles together are covered with even more fascia.” Without movement (and stretching specifically) that fascia molds to your muscles like an immovable cast that keeps your muscles from functioning to their full capacity.

Aha! I had seen that “cast” first-hand the night with Bernice trying to get into the car!

Heimann goes on: “Stretching and yoga make that fascia more pliable, free-moving, and elastic.
We have to heat up the connective tissue through movement and through some prolonged stretching to influence the body into changing.”

Kells McPhillips, a health writer, adds:

“It follows that when you don’t move—and, specifically, when you do the same types of movement over and over again without counterbalancing them via stretching—you wind up feeling tight.”

“Think of it like this: If you broke your arm and wound up in a cast, you’d want to get that cast off ASAP, right? Stretching is the “it” factor that allows you to transition from a limited range of movement (try making a sandwich with a casted forearm) to an uninterrupted one (one where that PB&J is no problem). If you skip stretching, your body will feel fine in its cast. Until it doesn’t.”

“There will eventually be consequences because your joints are not being moved in their whole range of motion, so you might end up pulling the fascia and hurting your joints.”

Or, I’d like to add, forfeit your independence sooner than necessary. (We did not invite Bernice to any more events after that incredibly stressful evening.)  In short, as important as walking, strength training and cardio is, we also need to s-t-r-e-t-c-h! Being flexible and mobile will allow us to take care of ourselves and remain independent for many more years!

There are lots of ways to stretch.  Always check with your doctor, of course, but a Google search for “stretch and balance exercise for seniors” will yield a number of good suggestions, especially on YouTube.  I’ve included a free YouTube workout below.  We’ve been doing a stretching and breathing program also listed below for well over two years now and feel like it’s worth its weight in gold as we are not only breathing deeply each day, but bending and reaching from standing, seating and floor positions.

We think those exercises and walking every day are working! My nicest compliment of the year came from my 7-year old granddaughter yesterday while we were at the playground:  As we stood waiting our turn at the zipline, she said, “Grandma, most grandmas sit in a chair and watch, but you play with us!”

In conclusion, whether we’re in the mood or not, 2020 has required us to stretch in SO many ways – why not go all out and make stretching physically for a few minutes each day a priority?  It may make far more important differences to our health and life on a daily basis than whoever is ultimately elected President!

LINKS:
Osteoporosis:  I was diagnosed with Osteoporosis in my early 50’s. No drugs for me and so far, no breaks and no significant shrinkage!  I have been taking the all-natural supplement at www.Algaecal.com, exercising and following the information at www.SaveInstitute.com for years.

Article: “What Happens When You Don’t Stretch
https://www.wellandgood.com/what-happens-if-you-dont-stretch/
Exercise Links:  www.Oxycise.com and Youtube
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0um4kNe70RE

Carolyn Allen is the Author of 60 Seconds to Weight Loss Success, One Minute Inspirations to Change Your Thinking, Your Weight and Your Life. She has been a columnist for Meridian Magazine since 2007. She loves to provide mental and spiritual approaches for weight loss success and happy living both online and in the Washington, DC community since 1999.  She has presented for Weight Watchers, First Class, Fairfax County Adult Education and other community groups. She and her husband, Bob, are the parents of five children and grandparents of a growing number of darling little ones. They are now happy empty nesters in Sandy, Utah they center their online business for an amazing herbal detox. 
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