Tightening up is a normal part of getting older, but when you get cranky aches and pains just trying to touch your toes (or anything below the knees, quite frankly), it's time to fight back. For inspiration, check out all the 80-year-old yoga role models on Instagram who look and feel amazing, thanks to flexibility training. And know that stretching can help keep you injury-free, because supple muscles are better able to absorb stress, easing strain on your joints.
Boost your flex appeal with dynamic stretches like these moves from Davey Fisher, a certified fitness instructor at the Ranch wellness retreats in California. They're different from those touch-your-toes-and-hold exercises you did in gym class. Instead, these improve flexibility with multiple repetitions of fluid movements, slowly increasing range of motion with each rep. Call it your new anti-aging prescription — and unlike that cream you slather on nightly, this one's free.
Targets: butt and hamstrings
Stand with your feet together, then lift right leg and use arms to pull knee into chest. Hold for a moment as you continue to pull the knee in. Release and switch sides. Repeat 10 times on each side. Lean back for an added stretch while you bring your knee in.
Targets: hips and hamstrings
A: Stand with feet together, right hand resting lightly on a tall stool or countertop, and left arm at side. Shift weight to right foot and, without bending your knee, swing left leg in front of you as high as you can go. Keep your leg as straight as possible while you swing it.
B: Maintain the momentum of the swing as you bring leg back behind you. Repeat the full front-to-back swing motion 10 times, then switch legs. Repeat twice more on both sides. Make this your go-to move for loosening up tight hips.
Targets: pelvic area, including inner thighs
Stand with feet wider than shoulder width, toes turned out. Lower into a squat, then use your elbows to push knees outward. Hold for three counts, then push through heels to return to start position. Repeat 10 times. Step feet farther apart if you have trouble getting into a low squat.
Targets: quadriceps and hip flexors
Stand with feet close together, and kick left foot behind you. Balancing on right leg, pull left foot toward butt with your left hand. Hold for three counts, then release and switch sides. Repeat 10 times on each side. Foot doesn't reach your butt? You'll still get a good stretch.
Targets: rib cage, upper and middle back, and core
Lie on the floor, supporting yourself on forearms, then clasp hands together. Keeping hips and knees on the floor, push through forearms to slightly lift chest. Lengthen through the torso and press shoulders downward while raising neck upward. Hold for five to 10 counts, then slowly return to start position. Repeat four times.
Try to create as much space as possible between your collar bone and ears. Your spine has a natural S curve. Sitting can bend it out of shape, but this move helps to realign you.
Targets: chest, upper and middle back, core, and outer hips
A: Lie on your left side with legs stacked, knees bent at 90 degrees, and arms extended out together on the floor at shoulder level. Don't let your knees drift apart as you rotate your arm.
B: Lift right arm up and slowly roll torso to the right, keeping knees in place and right arm level with shoulder. Return to start position and repeat 10 times, then switch sides. Reach as far as you can comfortably go. With practice, you'll get your arm closer to the floor.
This story originally appeared in the May 2017 issues of Dr. Oz The Good Life.
The hottest ticket in daytime TV can be yours. Make your free appointment to see The Dr. Oz Show in NYC: www.doctoroz.com/tickets