Functional Flexibility

Senior man is exercising in park. Active retirement.Mobility can often become more of a challenge over time – a life time of sport, work, poorly aligned posture and injury can leave your joints and muscles feeling a bit locked up.

Poor mobility can contribute to pain all over your body, and conversely, improving your mobility can help ease everyday aches and pains. As with any change, improving your flexibility takes time, but it worth the investment. When your body moves efficiently, you are less likely to injure yourself, your balance can improve and you will simply feel better.

If you’re finding it increasingly trick to tie your shoes, turn around as you back the car or enjoy your regular hobbies and sports, here are a few exercises which will help improve your flexibility and mobility. Treat stretching the same as other exercise – pay attention to your form and if you feel pain (as opposed to the discomfort of your body trying something new), stop and seek professional advice.

Hold the following stretches for approximately 20-30 seconds, which is about the same amount of time it takes to sing a couple of verses of “happy birthday to you.”


Stand (or sit) straight. Open your arms out wide (as if you were going to give someone a big hug), lift your chest and drop your shoulders. Look up slightly. You should feel an opening sensation across your chest and shoulders.


Stand (or sit) straight. Take a breath in, lift your shoulders towards your ears, then relax and let them fall and elongate your neck. Now tilt your right ear over your right shoulder (without lifting your shoulders up again). Repeat on the left.

Next, keep your shoulders relaxed and down, then turn your head to look over your right shoulder (you may need to remind yourself to relax both shoulders downward again). Repeat on the left side.

Upper back

Stand (or sit) straight. Give yourself a hug and hold your shoulders with the opposite fingers. Take care to keep your shoulders relaxed and down. Now gently pull your shoulder blades apart by easing your elbows forward.

Lower back

Lie on the floor and keep your shoulders in touch with the floor as you bend your right knee and tip it over your left leg towards the floor. It is more important that your shoulders stay in contact with the floor than your knee does. Repeat on the other side.


Sit cross legged on the floor and aim to sit nice and tall. Lean gently forward and hold. Change the leg which is crossed in front and repeat.

Hamstrings (back of the thigh)

Hold on to the back of a chair (ideally your arms will be straight out in front of you). Move your feet hip width apart. Lean forward, holding on to the chair for stability and keep your heels pressed down into the floor while lifting your tailbone towards the ceiling.

Quadriceps (front of thigh)

Hold on to a chair or wall for balance. Pick up your right foot in your right hand. Keep your knees in line with each other and press your right knee towards the ground. Repeat on the other side.


Stand tall at the edge of a step and hold the rail for balance. Shift both feet back so your heels are in the air and let both heels drop towards the next step until you feel a stretch at the back of your lower leg.