At the Ellicott Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing, we know that physical inactivity is the enemy of mobility and physical comfort. For patients in long-term care facilities, though, physical movement can be challenging, and the temptation to avoid it can be strong. That tendency can create an unfortunate cycle, though, as failing to stretch and strengthen major muscles over a period of time can make future attempts at movement even more difficult, which can discourage later efforts.

The best approach, however, is to move and stretch as often as possible to maintain looseness and elasticity in muscles and connective tissues and to promote strength in bones. Maintaining and improving flexibility can also help patients remain less prone to injuries that can result from falls, strains, accidents, etc. So let’s take a look at some easy exercises that can help patients in even some of the most sedentary situations maintain and improve flexibility.


For instance, while sitting in a chair, without tipping your head forward or backward, turn your head as far as you can to the right or the left, hold it for up to 30 seconds, and then try the other side.


To stretch your back, you can sit on toward the edge of your chair and bend forward at the waist, sliding your hands down your legs to your shins. Be careful not to lose your balance, though; we don’t want you to injure yourself trying to stay healthy.


Finally, you can try sitting sideways on a bench (or a couch or bed, if harder long seating isn’t available), and laying one leg straight out on that surface while steadying yourself with your outside foot on the floor.