Important Stretches for Walking:
When preparing to walk, it is important to perform stretches that target the following muscles:
- hip flexors,
- lower back and
The above mentioned muscles are the key muscles used when walking for fitness. Make sure to stretch both sides. You should dedicate about 10-15 minutes to Important Stretches for Walking.
Preventing Strains and Sprains
While not generally regarded as a strenuous form of exercise, you should still take fitness walking seriously. As with any physical activity, precautions must be taken to minimize the risk of injury.
You will soon realize that walking at any pace provides extraordinary rewards for your health including beneficial improvements in your joints and muscles. In addition, walking has been shown to have advantages on your heart, lungs, bowels, and even your brain. Walking at even a strolling pace will benefit your body. By increasing your pace, you will increase your heart rate and truly give your body an exceptional workout. By increasing your pace and using your walk as a form of fitness, you also increase your risk of injuring yourself. There are some important precautions you should keep in mind in order to walk efficiently, and to avoid injury.
Using your Upper Body as Important Stretches for Walking
When most of us think of walking, you generally consider it an activity that is specifically reserved to the legs and feet. While the legs do play a major part in walking, your arms and back also play a central role in your fitness walking technique. By deliberately moving your arms as you walk, you are getting your upper body involved and increasing your heart rate. To correctly use your arms, your elbows should be bent to approximately a right angle. This angle should remain relatively unchanged as you move your arms forward and back. Bending and straightening your elbows as you move your arms is a common mistake. Completing this motion creates significant stress on the joints in your shoulder. This can quickly cause shoulder pain and injury to present itself.
Your arms are most efficient when they move alongside of your body in a forward and backward motion parallel to your path forward. If you swing your arms across your body you are decreasing the effectiveness of the arm swing by working against the energy that propels your body forward. Do not swing your upper arms too high. They should not exceed the height of your nipple line. Remember that your legs will move at the same rhythm as your arms. Therefore, by increasing the speed of your arm movements, you are also increasing the pace of your legs. It is an simple way to gain both speed and distance covered in the time you have. So keep those arms moving!
Maintain your hands relaxed and in a slightly cupped position. If you use walking/running poles (see the section above about selecting the proper walking equipment) you should keep a firm (but not tensed) grip on the handles of the poles. Additionally, work hard to keep your shoulders from ascending upwards towards your ears. Instead keep your shoulders slightly pulled back without placing undue stress on the muscles and tendons. Bent them slightly downward. Make sure to keep your chest elevated. Maintain your gaze 10-15 stride lengths ahead of you by keeping your head up
Getting your Muscles Ready – Dynamic Stretching
First you will want to warm up your body for 5 to 10 minutes. After warming up, you should stretch while your muscles are still warm. Do not allow your body to cool down before starting to walk. You should purposefully and slowly move through your full range of movement. Keep control of your movements by using your muscles. Do not simply allow momentum or gravity to carry your arms and legs through the movements. You should not allow your limbs to fall. Nor should you swing, fling or throw your body parts around. This encourages muscle use, warming them up. You will feel slight resistance in your muscles, but you should stop if you are feeling pain during a stretch.
The best way to start is with slow, low intensity movements. You should gradually progress your way up until you reach full-speed movements through your full range of motion. Repeat these motions several times (10-15 times).
Following Up – Static Stretching 101
Static stretching should be done soon after you walk or run while the muscles are still warm. Slowly stretch your muscles to their max range. Hold the stretch in a stagnant (static) position. Resist the urge to bounce. You should feel a slight pull or resistance in the muscle, but you shouldn’t feel pain when stretching.
Hold each stretch position for 20-30 seconds. It is best to repeat each stretch 4 to 5 times.