Senior Stretching Exercises


These senior stretching exercises are geared towards people over the age of 50 or those with limited mobility. Of course anyone can enjoy these seated chair stretches.

Before starting your stretching exercises be sure you are properly attired. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes. Make sure your clothes will move with you as you stretch your body.

The instructions below for these stretches are mostly performed in a chair.

This gives you the added security of balance and stability. This helps to prevent injury from a potential fall and is easier on the joints.

However, you can perform these same stretching exercises standing up. Just remember to keep your balance and only stretch it as far as it is comfortable. You don't want to over extend your muscles. Over extending the muscles can create tiny tears and injury to the muscles.

List of Senior Stretching Exercises

Use the links below to go to the instructions for the specific stretch or scroll down the page to view them all. These chair stretches include the upper and lower body.

Benefits of Stretching for Seniors

Stretching no matter what age has benefits. It helps keep the muscles toned and lengthened. Stretching is a relaxing activity that can help relieve stress and let you get a restful sleep. However stretching for seniors has added benefits. The muscles in our bodies become shorter and lose elasticity as we age.

Additionally you may experience joint pain and pain from arthritis. This causes many elderly adults to slow down and stop some normal active routines in their day.

Stretching can help improve flexibility making it easier to move about. It can help offset the decline in the joints which can help you move about easier. Stretching also improves your circulation and can reduce symptoms of certain diseases. It is especially helpful for those who have arthritis.

As with any senior exercise program, you should check with your doctor and discuss any limitations they may have for you based on your fitness level and medical condition.

Chair Upper Body Stretch


In addition to stretching the chest, this exercise will also stretch the shoulders and biceps. Although this stretches 3 different primary muscles, it is just one stretching movement. Use the step by step directions below and watch the illustration to ensure you are doing this correctly.

How to do the Chair Chest Stretch

  1. Sit on the edge of your chair with your feet firmly planted on the floor.
  2. Place your arms behind you and grip the back of the chair with your hands. Your hands should be near the bottom of the seat back.
  3. Keeping your balance, lean forward as far as you can to feel the stretch.
  4. Hold this stretch for about 20 seconds.

You can alter this stretch that does not require you to hold the back of the chair. For this modification, sit back in your chair and simply stretch your arms behind you. Remember to breathe in and out as you do this stretch.

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Chair Lower Back Stretch

With this chair stretching exercise, be sure to only bend down as far as you are comfortable with. You want to maintain your balance and stability while sitting in the chair. There are two different positions for this stretch; the forward and the sides.

How to Stretch the Lower Back


Position 1 - Foward

  1. Sitting in the chair, place your feet on the floor about hip width apart.
  2. Place your hands just above your knees for support. Alternatively you can let your arms hang down towards the floor.
  3. Now slowly lean forward and down until you feel the stretch in your back.
  4. Hold this for about 5 seconds and the roll your back as you come up to the starting position.
  5. Repeat this for several times to really make that back feel better.

Remember to breathe while doing this to keep your body oxygenated.


Position 2 - The Side

Now you will change the angle of this stretch to get more of the sides and side of the back.

  1. Sitting in the chair, place your feet more than shoulder width apart with feet flat on the floor.
  2. Place your hands on your right thigh.
  3. Lean over onto the right side. Hold the stretch for a few seconds and come back to starting position.
  4. Repeat this several times on this side and then repeat on the left side.

If you start to feel any pain or stress in your lower back, don't lean over as far. Keep the stretch lighter and less stressful on the back.

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Chair Hamstring Stretch

Keeping your hamstring strong can help minimize risk of falling. The hamstring is the muscle located on the backside of the thigh. This muscle crosses two different joints; the hips and the knees. Because of this, keeping this muscle stretched and healthy can help support the hips and knees and minimize pain in these joints.

How to do the Chair Hamstring Stretch

  1. Sit in your chair and place both feet flat on the floor with legs shoulder width apart.
  2. Extend one leg out straightening your knee and placing your heel on the ground. You can bend your knee slightly to avoid unwanted stress on this joint.
  3. Now place your hands on your thighs to support your body and slowly slide your hands down until you feel the stretch. Keep your back straight.
  4. Hold the stretch for at least a count of 20. You can deepen your stretch by sliding down a bit further and aiming your chest down to your knees.
  5. Repeat this stretch on the other side.

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Chair Shin Stretch

For this stretch you will be stretching primarily the shin muscle. This is the muscle that runs along your shin bone in the front of your lower leg. It runs from the top of the knee down to the ankle. Shin splints are the most common type of injury to this area of the leg. This is an inflammatory condition of the front part of the tibia. Stretching the shin is important to keep your leg muscles healthy. It's especially helpful if you are on your feet a good portion of the day.

How to do the Chair Shin Stretch

  1. Sit down in your chair.
  2. Cross one foot over the other.
  3. Curl your toe of the top foot to give the shin a stretch. To deepen the stretch, press your legs together slightly.
  4. Hold for about 20 - 30 seconds and then switch sides.

You can also do a shin stretch using a theraband. This is the flat type of exercise band. The instructions for this one is below.

How to do a Shin Stretch with Band

  1. Sitting down in the chair, hold the ends of the band in both hands (one end in each hand).
  2. Place the center of the band underneath the right foot at the balls of the foot.
  3. Place your heel on the floor and hold the ends of the band in your left hand.
  4. Now move your foot back and forth to stretch the shin. Move back and forth for about a count of 10 or so.
  5. Switch sides and repeat.

This second stretch is a toning and stretching exercise in one.

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Lower Body Stretches

These senior stretching exercises are performed on a mat and not in a chair. The instructions below cover several different lower body muscles including the quadriceps, hip flexors and glutes. You may want someone in the room with you if you need assistance getting up and down from the mat.

How to do the Quadricep Stretch

The quadriceps are the large muscles in the front of the thigh. The hamstrings are the opposing muscles in the back of the thigh.

  1. Lie down on the mat on your left side with your left arm stretched out above your head. 
  2. Place your head on your arm for support. Bend both of your knees slightly while lying down.
  3. Now lift your right leg up and grasp the ankle with your right hand.
  4. Push your leg back and behind you until you feel the stretch up the front of the thigh.
  5. Hold for about 10 to 20 seconds and repeat on the other side.

How to do the Glute Stretch

There is no need to get up off the mat to move to this next senior stretching exercise. Simply move into the position according to the directions below. The glutes are the muscles in your buttocks. If you have ever walked up a bunch of stairs, then you have felt the glute muscles at work.

  1. Lie on the floor with your back on the mat, feet on the floor with knees bent.
  2. Cross your left leg over the right leg with your foot resting on the thigh just above the knee. 
  3. Now take your hands and place them behind the right leg and lift up keeping the left leg crossed over.
  4. Lift until you feel your hips come slightly off the floor. You will feel this stretch in your buttocks and in the hip flexors.
  5. Hold this for a count of 10 to 20 and switch sides.

How to do the Hip Flexor Stretch

Your hip flexors are the muscles in your hips as the name suggests. Keeping these muscles stretched can help with joint pain and minimize injury.

  1. Lie on the floor with your back on the mat, feet on the floor with knees bent.
  2. Cross your left leg over the right leg with your foot resting on the thigh just above the knee.
  3. Now grasp your left leg just above the knee with your right hand.
  4. Twist the body slightly and drop your knee towards the floor until you feel the stretch in the hips and buttocks area.
  5. Hold for a count of 10 - 20 and repeat on the other side.

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Here are some additional senior stretching exercises for the wrists, ankles and arms.

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