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Video:5 Effective Stretches for Walkers

with Jonathon E. Stewart

Before you hit the streets on your walking workout, don't forget to warm up and stretch those muscles. See some simple exercises to get your body moving, and then learn how to stretch out effectively.See Transcript

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Transcript:5 Effective Stretches for Walkers

Hey guys - Jonathon Stewart here for About.com. Walking is a great form of exercise for everyone - fat burning and low-impact, it's about as natural for your body as it gets. So why the need for stretching? How about longer joint life, increased flexibility, and a reduced risk of injury? And it actually feels good, too. Check it out.

Warm Up Before Stretching

Before you get going, it's important to allow your muscles to relax and warm up before stretching to avoid debilitating pulls or tears. Start by walking at a very gentle pace for about 5-10 minutes, then stop near a wall or pole for balance.

Warm UP Ankle Roll

Bend one knee at a 90-degree angle and roll your foot clockwise 10 times, then counter-clockwise another 10. Switch legs and repeat.

Twist Walking Warm Up

Standing with your legs shoulder-width apart, hold your arms out to the side, parallel to the ground. Turn your torso so you twist your spine gently to the right, then the left, about 20 times total.

Arm Circle Warm Up

With your arms still extended, roll your arms forward in a small, circular motion, rotating from your shoulders. Count to 10 slowly, then reverse the direction of your circles for another count to 10.

Walking Warm Up Reach Stretches

Next, lift your right arm straight up, and reach over slowly to the left side of your body, bending at the hips. Keep your left hand at your waist, and once you begin to feel a little tension, hold the stretch for a count of ten. Relax, and repeat with the other side.

Warm Up Neck Stretches

Standing tall, bend your neck slowly to the side and hold it for a count of 10. Switch to the other side for another 10, then back, then forward. Be gentle, move slowly, and avoid rolling your neck in a full circle.

5 Stretches for Walkers

Now, you walk on your legs, so why all the upper body stuff? Well, walking actually exercises your whole body, from your toes to the top of your spine, and the more relaxed your whole body is, the better it's going to perform. And, now that you're loosened up, let's stretch the rest of you!

Thigh Walking Stretch

Start in a seated position on the floor or ground with one leg extended out in front of you and the other bent and tucked in. With a very straight spine, slowly bend at the hips, bringing your torso forward. Do not let your back round or slouch, even if it allows you to get closer to your toe. Hold, and repeat with your other leg.

Abs and Glutes Walking Stretch

With one leg extended in front of you, cross the other leg over and place the sole of your foot on the ground. Keep your glutes solidly balanced on the ground, and twist toward your bent leg, keeping your spine long and straight. Hold, and repeat with your legs reversed.

Calves Walking Stretch

Next, stand next to a wall or pole and place one foot in front of the other, bend your front leg and keep your back leg straight, and lean forward slightly, always keeping your spine straight. After holding for 30 seconds, slowly bend your back knee slightly to stretch your Achilles' tendon.

Walking Stretches for Shins

Stay Standing, bend your right leg and point your toes, then bring your foot down, toenails to the ground, roll your foot forward slowly, bending at the ankle. Hold the stretch for about 30 seconds, then switch to your left shin.

Quad Walking Stretches

Finally, grab your left foot with your left hand and slowly bring your foot up behind you. Keep your thighs close together and your hips level, and don't push further if you feel any pain in your knees. Hold, and repeat with your other leg.

Some folks recommend stretching after your walk, and it doesn't matter too much when you do it, as long as you always allow yourself the time to warm up, and don't forget to stretch at some point. Personally, when I'm done exercising, I'm most interested grabbing some food and stretching my belly.

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