Sport specific stretching is essential for all walkers and runners to fully enjoy the movement for which our bodies are designed. Fortunately, with a few general tips, the benefits are felt immediately!
6 Simple Stretching Tips
- NEVER STRETCH A COLD MUSCLE! Walk or jog easily for about 5 minutes and then stretch. Muscles really need adequate blood flow to relax and elongate (the goal of stretching).
- STRETCH BOTH SIDES OF A MUSCLE GROUP TO MAINTAIN MUSCLE BALANCE. For walking and running, the following muscle groups may be stretched in pairs: Quadriceps and Hamstrings (front and back of the upper leg), Glutes and Hip Flexors (front and back of hips), and Calves and Shins (lower part of the leg).
- HOLD EACH STRETCH FOR 15-30 SECONDS. Holding the stretch this long will give the muscle time to relax and elongate.
- EASE INTO THE STRETCH. Stretch to the point you feel tension but NOT PAIN!!!!! If the stretch hurts, STOP as you could actually rip a muscle if you stretch too fast or too far.
- IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO BREATHE AS YOU STRETCH. This allows the muscle time to relax and elongate (which improves flexibility and flexible muscles are less likely to suffer from injury!)
- STRETCH AFTER EVERY WORKOUT. The optimum time to stretch for flexibility improvement is AFTER the workout, not before. The muscles are warm and receptive to being stretched.
For more information, go to http://www.racewalking.org/stretches.pdf (it is a great website)