Benefits of Stretching Before and After Your Walks
Walking is an effective way to help increase mobility and improve your overall health and well-being. While walking may seem like a less-intensive exercise when compared to other workouts, it’s still a good idea to thoroughly stretch and warm up before hitting the trail.
The Benefits of Stretching
According to Don Lein, PT, PhD from the University of Alabama, the primary benefit of stretching before your walk is to prevent injuries. If you don’t properly stretch your muscles and joints, they can be more susceptible to the strain that walking can put on the body.
Dr. Lein also states that there are other benefits to stretching which include enhanced performance and a reduction in muscle soreness. Stretching will allow you to perform better on your walk, and will help you get the most of your walks. As with muscle soreness, any sort of prolonged exercise will likely lead to the onset of muscle soreness post workout. Stretching prior to a workout is a good way to help prevent this soreness from setting in after walking.
Basic Types of Stretching
Before stretching, Shannon Mescher, an exercise physiologist, recommends a simple warm-up for a few minutes, such as walking in place while using your arms. After you have warmed up sufficiently, here are some basic stretches that you can use for your walking routine.
Using a chair, you want to sit near the edge of the chair and keep your feet flat on the floor. Extend one leg straight out with your heel touching the floor and your toes pointing up at the ceiling. Keeping your back straight, lean your upper body forward until you feel a stretch in the back of your legs. Maintain that stretch for 10-30 seconds. Repeat with the other leg.
Stand up straight with your feet flat on the ground in front of a wall or chair. Using the wall or chair for support, place one of your feet behind you, keeping the heel of that foot flat on the floor. Bend the opposite knee and lean forward slightly, making sure that back foot’s heel is still flat. You should feel the stretch in the back leg’s calf. Hold for 20-30 seconds and repeat with the other leg.
Stretching will help to prevent injuries and help you get the most out of your walking routine. Walking is a great way to stay healthy and, as with any exercise regimen, should be practiced with proper caution and preparation.
Please Note: There are many stretching videos on YouTube, offering more detailed instruction. After watching videos a few times, you will likely memorize how to do them, making it easier to know which stretches to do before your walks.