Walking may not seem like an exercise you need to prepare and warm up for.But if you’re going to be walking long distances to either lose weight or get fit, it’s best to warm up and prepare so you can avoid injury.
This list of stretches will help activate the key muscles you use when you walk, so you can prepare for your walk with confidence. Completing these stretches will help your walks become more comfortable and help you avoid any muscle strains.
This stretching exercise engages your quadriceps, which are located at the front of your thigh.
To start you’re going to want to stand up straight, and place your feet shoulder width apart.
Gently grasp your right foot, and pull it behind you towards your buttocks until your feel a slight stretch in your quads.
You’re going to want to hold it there for 10-20 seconds, before switching feet and repeating the exercise.
Straight Leg Calf Stretch
This exercise targets your calf muscles, at the back of your lower leg.
Start by standing straight, and extending your right leg behind you, keeping your right heel flat on the ground.
Bend your left leg – if you’re in the correct position, your left knee should be directly above your left ankle.
Slowly move your body forwards so that more weight is on your left leg. You should start to feel a slight stretch in your calf muscles.
Hold this for 10-20 seconds before switching legs.
Active Hamstring Stretch
This exercise engages the hamstring muscles at the back of your upper leg.
A good starting position is to stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart.
Slowly move your weight onto one of your feet, as you take a gentle step forward with the other.
Keeping the heel of your front foot flat on the ground, slowly point your toes upwards.
Reach down and hold the toes of your front foot with your hands (if you need to place one hand on your knee for support, that is fine).
Pull your toes towards your body until you feel a slight stretch in your thigh.
Hold this position for 10-20 seconds before switching feet and repeating.
Your Achilles tendon is used extensively whenever you walk. It’s important not to exclude it in any warm up stretches and exercises.
For this exercise, you’re going to need a small step or raised platform.
To get started, stand up straight and place the ball of your right foot on the step or platform.
Keeping your left leg straight, slowly bend your right knee and lean forwards until you feel a slight stretch in your achilles and lower calf.
Hold this position for 10-20 seconds, before switching legs and repeating.
Kneeling Lunge Stretch (Hip Flexors)
The kneeling lunge stretch is a great way to activate the muscles in your upper legs, hips and groin.
To do the stretch, start by kneeling down on the floor.
Then, slowly place one foot in front of your body, so your thigh runs parallel to the floor.
Place your hand on your forward knee, and gently lean forwards until you feel a stretch in your thigh and groin.
Hold this position for around 10-20 seconds, and then repeat with the other leg.
A word about stretching.
There are a lot of benefits to light stretching before you go for a walk, but it’s important to be careful not to overdo it.
Remember that your muscles are cold when you first start out, so you shouldn’t push yourself too hard.
Instead, focus on gentle, slow stretches that feel comfortable for you. By taking it easy at first, you’ll help reduce your risk of injury and enjoy a more enjoyable walk.