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How to restore range of motion

October 8, 2021 at 10:00 p.m.
Michael Roizen, M.D., and Mehmet Oz, M.D

Q: I have been pretty athletic, but now at 63, I notice that my range of motion is getting restricted. What's going on, and how can I reverse this trend? -- Jayne P., Milwaukee, Wisc.

A: Age-related changes in connective tissue and muscles can affect range of motion. One study in the Journal of Aging Research found that between ages 55 and 86, the flexibility in shoulder and hip joints decreases by around 6 degrees a decade. At the same time, you may also experience a loss of strength -- as muscle tone becomes harder to maintain. Recent research shows that it declines by about 1% a year after age 50. However, that study also pointed out that reducing chronic inflammation, making smart nutrition choices -- especially getting enough high-quality protein from plants and fatty fish -- and staying physically active can improve muscle function noticeably.

Passive stretching. This is your first step toward restoring maximal flexibility and building muscles. It is done by holding a stretch and relaxing into it while some outside force -- a stretchy band, a door frame, gravity or a partner -- keeps you in a stretching pose. Remember to hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds and breathe through it -- exhaling for twice as long as you inhale while consciously tell your muscles and tendons to relax. Check out "Dr. Oz's Morning Stretch" and the "12 Minute Home Yoga stretch" at DoctorOz.com.

Active stretching. You also can promote flexibility by doing activities that require you to turn your torso and extend your arms -- like yoga or even hitting a tennis ball against a backboard.

Strength training. This is another important way to improve your range of motion and flexibility. A study in Physiological Reviews found that strength training can boost older folks' strength and muscle mass by 30%. And more muscle power helps improve range of motion. Check out System Oz's "30-Minute Tone & Sculpt for the Whole Body" and "30-Minute Cardio & Strength That's Easy on the Joints," at DoctorOz.com.

Q: I'm so tired during the day that I yawn uncontrollably -- even nod off -- and I am having trouble focusing. I go to bed at a reasonable time (around 11 p.m.) and get up around 6:30 a.m. What could be causing it? -- Gabe G., Rochester, N.Y.

A: Daytime sleepiness that happens a couple times a week or more may be a sign of some underlying health or emotional issue. The National Sleep Foundation says around 20% of Americans experience daytime drowsiness regularly, and some contend with what's called excessive daytime sleepiness. That's defined as "daily episodes of an irrepressible need to sleep or daytime lapses into sleep."

• Occasional daytime sleepiness may be related to sleep disturbances caused by stress, outdoor noises, bad dreams, a snoring bedmate, even gastrointestinal turmoil (irritable bowel syndrome, for example).

• Excessive -- that is daily -- sleepiness is often a sign of sleep apnea. The breathing irregularities apnea causes can microwake you over and over and over all night long, without you being aware that your sleep is disturbed. A study in Sleep Medicine Reviews estimated around 9% to 38% of U.S. adults have moderate sleep apnea.

Other possible causes: Drinking alcohol can disturb sleep, as its sedative effects wear off. So can some prescription medications, such as steroids, oral contraceptives, high blood pressure meds, some asthma and COPD medications, antidepressants and ADHD medication. Narcolepsy is also a possible cause, although it affects only one in every 2,000 people. It's caused by the loss of brain neurotransmitters called hypocretins that regulate the sleep/wake cycle.

Chronically poor sleep from any cause is related to depression, obesity, dysregulation of hormones, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease -- and one study found getting five hours or less a night boosts your risk of premature death from all causes by 15%. So talk to your doctor about how to diagnose and resolve your daytime sleepiness. This is your wake-up call.

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer Emeritus at Cleveland Clinic. Email your health and wellness questions to Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen at [email protected]

(c)2021 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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