You've been sitting all morning, staring at the computer, and realize it's time to walk. You put your shoes on and rush to meet your group. As you start walking, you notice a pull in the back of your leg! What happened?!
Stretching is a key component to walking. It's just as important as the walk itself! We understand that time is limited for many people, especially if you are walking at work, so we wanted to provide a few simple stretches that won't take long and are easy to do as you wait for the rest of the group. You can also try these at your desk throughout the day!
Dynamic Stretching is stretching in motion. We recommend it BEFORE you start walking over doing Static Stretching (holding a position for 30 to 45 seconds). Dynamic Stretching helps with blood flow and circulation and warms the muscles, helping them prepare for a walk. Here are a few of our favorite stretches:
Hip Circles: Stand on one leg, using a countertop or a buddy for support, and gently swing the opposite leg in circles out to the side. Perform 20 circles in each direction. Switch legs. Progressively increase the size of the circles as you become more flexible.
Arm Circles: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hold arms out to the sides, palms down, at shoulder height. Gently perform 20 circles in each direction. Progressively increase the size of the circles as you become more flexible.
Arm Swings: Stand with arms out in front, parallel to the floor, palms facing down. Walk forward as you swing arms in unison to the right so your left arm is in front of your chest and fingers point out to the right. Keep torso and head facing forward – only move at the shoulder joints. Reverse the direction of the swing (as you keep walking) to the opposite side. Repeat five times on each side.
High-Stepping: Stand with feet parallel to each other and at shoulder-width apart. Step forward with the left leg and raise the right knee high up toward your chest (use a wall for balance, if needed) and use both hands (or one, if using the other for balance) to pull the knee up farther. Pause and bring right leg back down; repeat with the other side and continue "high-stepping" five times on each leg as you walk forward.
Heel-to-Toe Walk: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and take a small step forward by placing the heel of the right foot on the ground and rolling forward onto the ball of your foot, rising as high as possible (as if standing on tip-toe), while bringing the left foot forward and stepping in the same heel-to-toe roll. Repeat five times on each leg.
Leg Swings: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and have a slight bend in the knees. Place both arms straight in front of you and slowly lift one leg up to "try" to reach your hands. Repeat on the other side. A great way to envision this: Frankenstein Walk! Repeat five times on each leg.
TIP: Many office employees have tight, and we mean TIGHT hamstrings (back of the leg)! This is caused from sitting for prolong periods of time and the hamstring muscle shortening. If this is YOU, spend a little extra time doing high steps and leg swings to engage those hamstrings!
TIP: Many women love heels! Wearing heels all day shortens the calf muscle, putting you at risk for calf pulls and problems like Plantar Fasciitis. If this is YOU, spend a little extra time doing the Heel-to-Toe Walk!