Take the time to stretch AFTER every walk. In the beginning your total post walk stretching routine should take about 5 minutes. As you increase distance and pace you will probably need to stretch longer.
The stretches we recommend post workout are called static stretches. These are stretches where you gently go into the stretch and hold the position. There are so many stretches it is impossible to cover them all. Be sure to stretch all the major muscle groups, and put extra focus on problem areas. Find a few recommended stretches below:
Calf Stretch: Take a big step forward with your left foot, keeping you right heel on the ground. Hold the position and repeat on the other side. Be sure to keep your body upright and your abs tight, do not arch your back. For an extra stretch, try to push your heel into the ground, shifting your weight and giving a more intense stretch to the back of the calf. Suffer from shin pain? Calf stretches are ESSENTIAL for you!
Hamstring and Lower Back: Slowly bend forward from your waist with your knees slightly bent. Reach for the floor and hold. Only bend as far as comfortable.
Quadriceps Stretch: Standing up, hold on to a stationary object. Bend your right knee, bringing your foot toward your buttocks. Keeping your left knee slightly bent, grasp your right ankle with the opposite hand. Slowly pull your leg up and back, bringing your foot at high as comfortable. Repeat with other leg. (To protect your knee... think of pulling the quads back rather than pulling the foot toward your buttocks.).
Shoulder Stretch: Standing upright, cross left arm over chest. Place your right hand on your upper arm and pull arm in tight to chest. Be sure to keep shoulders down and do not pull at the elbow. Hold, and then repeat stretch with other arm.
Neck Relaxer: Turn and look over your right shoulder and hold. Repeat on the left side. Don't hyper-extend the neck, or tilt it backwards.
Next, gently drop the head so that the ear goes towards the right shoulder and hold. Return to upright position. Repeat forward and on the left side. Keep the spine in an upright position and don't hyper-extend the neck, jerk, or tilt the head backwards.
Important rules for static stretches:
1) Never perform static stretches on cold muscles. The best time for this type of stretching is after your walk. If you have a problem area that needs stretching prior to your walk then you should do that stretching AFTER a complete warm up.
2) Do not bounce. Go into a stretch slowly and hold gently. Stretch to the point of feeling a gentle pull, but never to the point of pain
3) Hold each stretch for 30 to 40 seconds. If you have problems with a particular area stretch that area twice. (Hold for 30-40 seconds release, then stretch again.)