A Guide to Stretching

17 June, 2011

This 7-stretch routine will help to keep your walking muscles flexible.  Follow it after every walk if you can, but complete it at least once or twice a week in order to maintain your flexibility.

Remember:

  • don’t stretch cold muscles, it’s better to stretch after a walk than before
  • ease into each stretch, don’t bounce or force it
  • after a walk hold each stretch for 30 seconds and repeat once or twice on each leg

1. Lying hamstring stretch (indoors only)

While seated on the floor loop a band, cord or towel around one foot and hold it with both hands.

From a lying position with the band in place, keep your upper body relaxed and both legs straight as you pull the leg towards you.  Your hips should remain parallel and touching the floor at all times.

2. Lying gluteal stretch against a wall (indoors only)

Lying on your back close to a wall, place your feet flat against the wall to make right angles at the hip and behind the knee.

Take one foot off the wall and, bending the knee and moving it out to the side, place the ankle just below the knee of the other leg.  Push the knee that is now out to the side towards the wall to intensify the stretch in the muscles around the side of your buttocks.

As you become more flexible, move your bottom closer to the wall to increase the stretch, but ensure your lower back remains on the floor throughout the stretch.

3. Groin stretch

Sitting on the floor with your knees bent and out to the sides, place the soles of your feet together.

Keeping your back straight and shoulders pulled back, hold your feet with both hands and gently use your leg muscles to move your knees towards the ground.  To increase (decrease) the intensity of the stretch move your feet closer to (further away from) your body.

4. Gastrocnemius (upper calf) stretch

Stand with your feet together in front of a wall (or pillar) and place both hands against it at shoulder height with a slight bend in your elbows.

Keeping your feet parallel and toes pointing towards the wall, step back with one foot.  While keeping the back leg straight, push the back heel into the ground to feel a stretch in your upper calf.  Keep a straight upper body and gently lift up your hips to increase the stretch.  There shouldn’t be much pressure on the front foot.

 

5. Soleus (lower calf) stretch

Stand with your feet together in front of a wall (or pillar) and place both hands against it at shoulder height with a slight bend in your elbows.

Relax one leg and let the heel lift off the floor slightly.   Bend the other leg, keeping the foot flat on the floor.  You should feel a stretch in the lower calf of this leg and little pressure on the other foot.

Lean towards the wall to intensify the stretch.

6. Hip flexor stretch

Kneeling on the floor with your toes tucked under and active, take one foot and place it in front of you.

Place both hands just above the knee of the front leg and, keeping your hips squared forwards and your upper body vertical, slowly lean forwards to feel a stretch in front of the hip of the back leg.

Place the front foot further forward to increase the stretch.

7. Standing quadriceps stretch

Standing close to a wall (or pillar) in case you need it for balance, raise one foot behind your body and take hold of it with the corresponding hand (right hand & right leg, left hand & left leg), the palm across the laces of your shoe.  Bend the supporting leg slightly to avoid locking the knee and align your knees together.

Tilt your pelvis up and keep your body straight to maximise the stretch through the front of your leg.

A small towel can be used to loop round the foot if needed.

A printable version of this guide can be downloaded by following this link: A Guide to Stretching