Expert Q&A

Walking: Is stretching afterwards necessary?

If I go for a walk, do I still need to stretch afterwards?

Absolutely.  Anytime you exercise you are contracting muscles.  Contracted muscles stay tightened until stretched.  By stretching after each workout you not only improve your flexibility but also cut down on the risk of getting injured.  If you fall or move the wrong way, limber muscles ‘give’ more. As a result, they can save you from the pain of an injury and a lengthy recovery period. 

It doesn’t take much to add a few stretches at the end of a walk.  Try these three: 

  1. Place your hands on a tree and reach one leg back as far as you can while still keeping the foot flat on the ground.  Lean in towards the tree as if you’re trying to push a car uphill.  Repeat on the other leg.
  1. Stand upright and grab your foot from behind with one hand.  Repeat on the other leg. 
  1. Place one foot against a tree trunk or on a park bench.  Keeping the other leg straight, lean forward over the leg while keeping the toes in tight.  Repeat on the other leg.

Try these three simple stretches for the next few weeks.  You’ll feel the difference.  Your muscles will be less stiff.  And, if you continue long enough, you’ll gradually improve your walking performance too.

Michele Silence, MA
Contributing Expert

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