How To Stay Supple As You Age – According To Physios

How To Stay Supple As You Age – According To Physios

A loss of flexibility and stiffness in your joints might be common signs of ageing, but they needn’t be inevitable. From the importance of a strong upper body to the benefits of daily stretching, we went to the experts to discover their secrets for a supple, nimble and ache-free body.

Move In A Variety Of Ways

“If you don’t use it, you lose it. It’s imperative to move the body in all directions as you age to stay supple. As much as walking is a great form of exercise, it doesn’t move the body from every angle or extend the spine beyond a natural position. If you enjoy walking, keep it up but also consider introducing a mobility-focused session into your week, such as Pilates or yoga. A sedentary lifestyle will naturally affect mobility, so you need to consider doing something that will move your joints both actively and passively, as well as build strength in the little muscles that support your joints.” – Lyndsay Hirst, physiotherapist and founder of Your Pilates Physio 

If You Do Anything, Work On Your Posture

“A deterioration in upper body muscle strength and mobility is very common as you age. Women have a tendency (more so than men) to become more rounded in their shoulders and more flexed in the thoracic spine, which impacts on your ability to fully extend your shoulders. This results in your shoulder and spinal extensor muscles weakening. Lifting weights is a great way to strengthen the upper body, as is Pilates, but even small exercises at home can help your posture. Practise bearing your weight through your heels, without losing contact with the front of your foot, which will engage the glute and core muscles to support your posture. Then find a midway position with your pelvis, imagining your pelvis is a bowl of water and that you need to keep it level. Then imagine you have a headlight on your chest bone – shine the headlight forward by lifting your chest.” – Lyndsay 

Sign Up To A Pilates Course

“Pilates is a great way to stay strong as you age. Instead of doing the odd class here and there, find a beginner’s course, so you can join from week one to learn the basics and progress as the weeks go on at a pace that suits you. Look for a teacher that specialises in teaching your age group and who can adapt exercises around any medical conditions you may have. Try not to compare yourself to others in the class – remember everyone was new at one point, and it can take a few lessons to understand the technique.” – Lyndsay 

Exercise Three Times A Week

“There is a decline in muscle mass by 12-14% each decade after 50. Studies show that exercise at this age should be a mixture of weight-bearing, low-impact and aerobic – aim for three sessions every week to improve balance and maintain mobility. Low-impact exercises such as Pilates and swimming are great ways to maintain cardiovascular fitness and keep your joints and muscles happy. Aim for a daily step count of 8,000-10,000 for general conditioning and do five to ten minutes of stretching in the morning or evening to help with stiffness and flexibility.” – Kendall Scales, physiotherapist and women’s health specialist at Ten Health & Fitness 

Live Well 

“Lifestyle factors such as exercise, diet and weight will have an impact on your mobility and how efficiently your body moves, regardless of age. The impact of the lifestyle choices we make, whether good or bad, is more pronounced the longer we continue to make these choices and will help determine the quality of our mobility – and our quality of life generally. Diet plays an important role in the health of your muscles and tendons, so be sure to eat plenty of protein (with every meal and snack) and fibre, ideally in the form of complex carbohydrates, such as lentils, pulses, fruit and vegetables. At the same time, negative effects come from a high BMI and smoking. A high BMI will put extra strain on your joints, which can result in pain and reduced activity, while smoking puts added strain on your cardio-respiratory system, decreasing the body’s ability to deliver oxygen to your muscles during activity, ultimately affecting your stamina and efficiency with movement.” – Courtney Morren, physiotherapist and women’s health specialist at Ten Health & Fitness 

Movement is medicine, but it’s important to understand your condition – whether it’s pain in your back, hips, knees or something else – in order to know how to move properly.

Try Collagen

“Our connective tissue – such as tendons and ligaments – is made up of collagen. As we age, the decline in oestrogen levels contributes to a decrease in our body’s ability to generate good-quality collagen, which takes its toll on the health of our connective tissue. Regarding collagen supplements specifically, there’s a shortage of solid research, although collagen-boosting nutrients can easily be added to the diet through beans, seeds and cashew nuts. Don’t discount the role of vitamin D, either, which plays a central role in bone and muscle health. Chat to your GP about the right dose for you.” – Courtney

Make Small Changes To Your Day

“The importance of staying active throughout the day cannot be underestimated. If you work in an office, or work from home, try to get up every hour and, when sat at your desk, move your neck forwards and backwards, and get into the habit of rotating your arms, hips, wrists, heels and spine. Wherever possible, take the stairs and avoid using the lift, and if you use public transport, get off two to three stops before your usual stop and walk the rest of the way. If you are feeling very stiff and feel you have a lot of muscular tension, book a massage, which can have great benefits for both physical and mental wellbeing. Don’t underestimate the effect relaxation can have on muscle tension.” – Renata Nunes, physiotherapist and acupuncturist

Get On Top Of Hormones

“As you go through the menopause, it’s not uncommon for pain and stiffness to worsen, with the most affected areas being the spine, knees and shoulders. It’s believed that changing hormone levels at this stage in life take their toll on muscles. In fact, oestrogen is closely linked to the function of your bones, muscles, cartilage, tendons and ligaments; as women go through the menopause, your fascia (the connective tissue that surrounds your muscles) can become compromised and more rigid, culminating in stiffness and pain. If you were prone to back pain, headaches and lower limb pain during your period, chances are pain in these areas will worsen as you age. Staying on top of your hormones can make the world of difference.” – Renata 

Try Qigong

“Qigong is an ancient Chinese exercise and healing technique that involves meditation, controlled breathing and movement exercises. As well as increasing circulation, heart rate and muscle temperature, it can help to gently open and loosen the joints, especially the ankles, knees and hips. Qigong movements are all about dynamic – as opposed to static – flexibility. For something more conventional, you can’t go wrong with Pilates. In addition to enhancing flexibility, Pilates works on muscle strength associated with breathing and movement control.” – Renata 

If In Doubt, Speak With An Expert

“Movement is medicine, but it’s important to understand your condition – whether it’s pain in your back, hips, knees or something else – in order to know how to move properly. Some movements may aggravate a certain condition. For example, some people find heat (such as a hot water bottle) useful on sore muscles, while others find ice, such as a covered bag of frozen peas, brings relief.” – Lyndsay 

Don’t Overthink It

“For too long scientists have argued about the best way to stay mobile, but recent research has shown there is no best way. The real secret is to stay active on a regular basis, moving little and often. Ultimately, it’s about finding an activity, hobby or pastime you enjoy and find easy to include in your weekly schedule. For some, this will be an exercise class while for others it may be a more casual activity such as golf, tennis, dancing, DIY or gardening. In short, the what seems to matter less than the why.” – Mike James, musculoskeletal physiotherapist and advisory partner to INCUS Performance 
Physio appointments at Ten start from £110, visit for more and to book an appointment at one of their ten London locations. Your first 14 days with Your Pilates Physio’s online platform are free, including access to hundreds of online Pilates classes based on your needs, visit and follow her @Your_Pilates_Physio. Physiotherapy with Renata Nunes is available on demand – email her at or visit You can also follow her on Instagram @RenataNunesTherapist. INCUS Performance offers world-first endurance sports wearables – for more information visit and follow them @Incus_HQ.
DISCLAIMER: Features published by SheerLuxe are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of your GP or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programme.

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