Stretching for walkers

Stretching for walkers

Stretching is highly beneficial but surprisingly overlooked. In this article Scott Muir looks into the greatly neglected world of stretching and offers some useful stretches that can be done anywhere, at anytime.

Stretching is a greatly neglected aspect of almost every sport and activity, not just walking and mountaineering. Yet it is probably one of the most relaxing and energy free activities to do and often can be done while watching the television! Stretching will not only improve your range of movement, but also reduce the risks of injury. A good stretch after any vigorous activity such as rambling or a difficult day in the hills will greatly reduce the period of time taken to recover.
 

Streching is one of the most relaxing and energy-free activities to do and often can be done while watching TV!
Stretching does not have to be technical, you do not need a fancy fitness studio, nor do you need a huge range of stretches. A few effective stretches performed on a regular basis - especially before and after activity - will have excellent results. Have a repertoire of three or four stretches that you can use at the car before or after a walk and a greater selection for the comfort and warmth of home.

A few key points to remember when stretching:

Do not bounce or use ballistic stretches. Stretch when your muscles are warm. You may need to do a light warm up. Hold stretches for at least 15 seconds and repeat them three times with a short rest between each. Work from the head down. Since walking and mountaineering are mainly legs and lower body based, the majority of stretches should be focused to this area. All of these are easy do to anywhere - so there are no excuses!

Calf muscle (back of lower leg)

There are two basic positions to produce a stretch in the calf muscle, each effective and simple to perform. For each stretch you will need to find a wall upon which to lean against.
 
Stretching
Stretch1. Straight Knee

Step 1 - Stand with the palms of your hands flat against a wall at eye level.
Step 2 - With one foot in front of the other bend your front knee keeping the foot flat on the floor. The back leg should be kept straight with foot flat on the floor.
Step 3 - Leaning forward onto your hands push your left heel into the ground and hold that position. Repeat for the opposite side.

2. Bent knee

Step 1 - Stand with the palms of your hands flat against a wall at eye level.
Step 2 - With one foot slightly in front of the other bend both knees keeping your feet flat on the floor.
Step 3 - Using your body weight over the back leg, stretch the calf muscle. Repeat for the opposite side.

Hamstrings (back of upper leg)

For this exercise you will need a chair or staircase to rest your leg on.
Step 1 - Stand upright with one leg placed on the back of a chair or staircase.
Step 2 - Keeping your back slightly arched, lean forward towards your raised foot keeping your head up and looking forward.
Step 3 - Repeat for the other leg.

Quadriceps (thighs)

Step 1 - Standing upright lift one heel off the ground towards the buttocks holding it with your hands.
Step 2 - Pull your heel into your buttocks with your pelvis tilted inwards tucking your buttocks under your body.
Step 3 - Hold and repeat for the other leg

All of these are easy do to anywhere - so there are no excuses!

Neck  

Step 1 - Gently tilt the head as far backwards as possible, then forward until it is resting on your chest. 
Step 2 - Then alternate leaning it to the left and right, as far as possible.
Step 3 - Pull your chin in to your neck (this should give you at least a double chin!), then extend it out as far forward as possible. 

Note. Do not rotate your head in a circular motion as this can cause injury.

Shoulders  

Step 1 - Place one elbow behind your head with the hand in the centre of the back.
Step 2 - Gently pull the elbow downwards towards the back with your other arm.
Step 3 - Repeat for the other side.

If you are interested in some more advanced stretches then it is well worth going to the training section of other activities on the site.

Search site