4 Key Stretches for Walkers
Walking may be a simple workout but it is effective enough at aiding weight loss or even maintaining overall fitness. To make the most out of walking, it is imperative that you add stretching into your fitness regimen. Dynamic stretches are employed before walking to prepare the body for quick movements. Static stretches on the other hand are more useful after a walk in order to reduce muscle tightness. To help you combine these two methods of stretching into your walking routine, here are 4 key stretches for walkers.
Dynamic Stretches for Walkers
Stretching cold muscles may result in injury. For that reason, it is always recommended to do a quick warm-up (5-10 minutes of jogging in place will do the trick) before moving on to dynamic stretches. Once the muscles are warm, try the following stretches before going for your walk.
1. Arm Swings
When walking, the shoulders exercise continuously as the arms swing back and forth naturally. To make sure that muscles in this part of the body are fully prepared for a walk, try doing vertical arm swings.
- Stand feet placed about shoulder width apart with both arms at your sides.
- While keeping them stretched out, raise both arms up and behind the head as far as you can. Swing the arms down and behind the back as far as you can to finish one rep. You can also swing the arms in alternating fashion such that when the right arm goes up, the left one goes down.
- Aim for 10 reps and remember to keep the arms stretched out when swinging them.
2. Leg Swings
Leg swings can prepare the hamstrings, quadriceps, calves as well as inner and outer thigh muscles for a walk. This stretch requires good balance, but you can make it easier by standing adjacent to a wall and holding onto it for support.
- Stand beside a wall resting your right hand on it for balance.
- Flexing your right foot, swing it forward and backward without letting it touch the ground or bend at the knee
- You can also swing the leg side to side. For this motion, face the wall. Make sure also to place your hands on the wall at shoulder level.
- For each variation, complete 10 leg swings with your right leg and then 10 reps with the left leg.
Static Stretches for Walkers
Static stretches are great after walking. Since these stretches require the body to be in a standstill position, this will help to bring down the heart rate. Some of the static stretches you may want to add to your walking cool down routine include:
3. Standing Hamstring Stretch
This is an effective exercise for stretching your hamstrings and lower back in order to protect against muscle tightness and strain.
- To perform a hamstring stretch, stand with one foot in front of the other.
- Bend the back knee and rest your weight on it.
- Keep the knee straight for the front leg and point the toes up so that the front leg is resting on your heel.
- Tilt your hips forward while keeping the chest up and back straight. Rest both hands on your thighs for support. Bend the back leg’s knee to make the stretch more intense.
- Hold this position for 10-30 seconds then change the stance to stretch the other hamstring.
4. Calf Stretch
With regular walking, your calves tighten over time. This can lead to shin splints, Achilles tendonitis, ankle pain, knee problems or cramps in the lower leg. However, performing a calf stretch can help guard against such injuries.
- Stand on the ball of your foot on a curb, box, or one of the platforms leading up a flight of stairs. Your heel should be hanging over the edge.
- Slightly bend the knee and allow your heel to drop below the step.
- Hold the stretch for 30 seconds then switch to the other calf.
Feel free to try other stretching routines other than those mentioned above. Remember to choose routines that stretch muscles used during walking in order to reap the most benefits.