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4 of the Best Stretches to Do Before Walking

Published September 24, 2019
Ben Kissam

Written By: Ben Kissam, BS

Ben has a B.S. in Movement and Sports Science and over 7 years Certified Personal Training Experience.

best-stretches-to-do-before-walking
<script type="application/ld+json"> { "@type":"BlogPosting", "headline":"4 of the Best Stretches to Do Before Walking", "datePublished":"September 24, 2019", "description":"Use these 4 stretches before walking in a quick routine to save your joints and protect your body from injury.", "image": "https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/media/public/2019/08/feet-shoes-sneakers-jogging-walking-prep-sizing-thumbnail-0249.jpg" }, } ] } </script> <article> <div> <ul> <li><a href="#section1">Should I Stretch Before Walking?</a></li> <li><a href="#section2">Walking—It’s Pretty Beneficial</a></li> <li><a href="#section3">Warming Up <i>Before</i> Stretching</a></li> <li><a href="#section4">Guidelines for Stretching</a></li> <li><a href="#section5">What Stretches Should I Do Before a Long Walk?</a></li> <li><a href="#section6">How Do You Stretch Your Feet Before Walking?</a></li> <li><a href="#section7">Best Stretches Before Walking—Final Thoughts</a></li> </ul> </div> <section> <p>About to hit the road or trail? Before you do, it’s important to get your muscles ready for exercise. That means a light warm-up followed by a few lower and upper body stretches. That way, your body is ready for exercise, and you don’t get injured.</p> <p>That seems like a no-brainer. But if you don’t know what stretches to do, or for how long, you might be confused or discouraged from stretching.</p> <p>Here’s a quick rundown on why walking is so beneficial, why you should warm-up before stretching, and the 4 best stretches before walking.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/woman-walking-park-drink-sneakers-cardio-0249.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/woman-walking-park-drink-sneakers-cardio-0249.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/woman-walking-park-drink-sneakers-cardio-0249.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/woman-walking-park-drink-sneakers-cardio-LR-0249.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="woman-walking-park"> </picture> <script type="application/ld+json">{"@context":"https://schema.org","@type":"FAQPage","mainEntity":[{"@type":"Question","name":"Should I stretch before walking?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"Yes. Walking may not be as intense as, say, a circuit workout, but stretching before exercise increases joint range of motion and decreases your risk of injury.\n\nIf you’re put off at the idea of moving before the workout even starts, don’t overthink it. Your stretching routine doesn’t have to be complex.\n\nThe routine we’ll describe later only takes 5 to 7 minutes. But before we explain it, we need to cover one more important thing."}}]}</script> <h2 id="section1">Should I stretch before walking?</h2> <p>Yes. Walking may not be as intense as, say, a <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/circuit-training-for-weight-loss/" rel="noreferrer">circuit workout</a>, but stretching before exercise increases joint range of motion and decreases your risk of injury <sup>3</sup>.</p> <p>If you’re put off at the idea of moving <i>before</i> the workout even starts, don’t overthink it. Your stretching routine doesn’t have to be complex. </p> <p>The routine we’ll describe later only takes 5 to 7 minutes. But before we explain it, we need to cover one more important thing.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section2"> <h2>Walking—it’s pretty beneficial</h2> <p>There are many benefits to a long walk—there are at least ten <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/10-reasons-why-walking-is-the-best-exercise/" rel="noreferrer">we can think of</a>. Walking increases blood flow to promote recovery after workouts, requires no equipment, and is a proven mood-booster <sup>1</sup>.</p> <p>Our favorite benefit of walking, however, is that it’s an underrated way to burn fat.</p> <p><i>Walking burns fat? Really?</i></p> <p>Yup. Walking may not burn as many calories as running or <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/what-is-functional-training-and-can-it-benefit-you/" rel="noreferrer">high-intensity interval training</a> (HIIT) workouts, but it’s a ‘low and slow’ form of exercise, meaning your body is able to burn fat as fuel instead of glucose. </p> <p>You’ll actually burn <i>more fat than carbs</i> working out at 50 percent of your max exertion <sup>2</sup>.</p> <p>(Think of a sprint as 100 percent and a moderate running pace as 70 or 80 percent.)</p> <p>If you’re on a <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com" rel="noreferrer">weight loss journey</a>, don’t scoff at walking. It could be your secret fat-burning weapon.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section3"> <h2>Warming up <i>before</i> stretching</h2> <p>Stretching and warming up <i>used</i> to be synonymous. Now, studies show that it’s better to do a few minutes of light exercise (yes, walking works) <i>before</i> stretching <sup>4</sup>.</p> <p>If you’ve ever stretched cold or tight muscles, you probably know first hand what we are talking about. Warming up prepares your body for aerobic exercise. A short warm-up jumpstarts your cardiovascular system, increasing body temperature and increasing blood flow to muscles, which improves range of motion <sup>5</sup>.</p> <p>Cold muscles aren’t as ready to be stretched. Without warming up to get the blood flowing, you have an increased chance of pulling a muscle. </p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section4"> <h2>Guidelines for stretching</h2> <p>Here’s a simple pre-walk stretching routine you can follow:</p> <ol> <li>3 to 5 minutes of light walking (around your house or down the block is fine)</li> <li>3 to 5 minutes of dynamic and static stretching* </li> <li>The remainder of your walk**</li> </ol> <p><i>*You’ll notice each stretch in the next section has a label: either ‘dynamic’ or ‘static.’ Dynamic stretches involve moving while stretching; static stretches ask you to hold a stretch in one place. Those that say ‘static or dynamic’ offer two options.</i></p> <p><i>**For what it’s worth, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults move at a moderate pace for 150 minutes per week. That’s only about 20 minutes per day <sup>6</sup>!</i></p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/stretching-before-walks-man-hamstrings-full-body-back-shoulders-0249.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/stretching-before-walks-man-hamstrings-full-body-back-shoulders-0249.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/stretching-before-walks-man-hamstrings-full-body-back-shoulders-0249.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/stretching-before-walks-man-hamstrings-full-body-back-shoulders-LR-0249.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="stretching-before-walks-man-hamstrings-full-body-back-shoulders"> </picture> <script type="application/ld+json">{"@context":"https://schema.org","@type":"FAQPage","mainEntity":[{"@type":"Question","name":"What stretches should I do before a long walk?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"1. Bent hamstring stretch, 2. Standing quad and hip flexor stretch, 3. Calf stretches, 4. Chest and back stretch"}}]}</script> <h2 id="section5">What stretches should I do before a long walk?</h2> <h3>1. Bent hamstring stretch</h3> <p><b>Type</b>: dynamic or static</p> <p><b>Dynamic</b>: Do marching kicks. Reach your left hand in front of you at chest height. Kick the right leg up to it as you step forward, then repeat on the other side. If you’re tight, aim for waist height. </p> <p>Do 2 sets of 10 on each side.</p> <p><b>Static</b>: Do a split hamstring stretch. Spread your feet and lock your knees so your left leg and right leg form an upside down ‘V’. Bend at the hips, keeping the knees locked the whole time. Gently move down your legs until you feel a stretch, then stay bent in that position. </p> <p>Hold for 20 seconds.</p> <h3>2. Standing quad and hip flexor stretch</h3> <p><b>Type</b>: static</p> <p>Do standing quad pulls. Bring your ankle up to your butt, and grab it with your hand. Balance on one leg (brace yourself on a wall or chair if you are having a hard time balancing). You should feel a stretch through your hip flexor and down the quad. </p> <p>Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/woman-legs-walking-up-stairs-outdoor-park-sneakers-cardio-0249.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/woman-legs-walking-up-stairs-outdoor-park-sneakers-cardio-0249.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/woman-legs-walking-up-stairs-outdoor-park-sneakers-cardio-0249.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/woman-legs-walking-up-stairs-outdoor-park-sneakers-cardio-LR-0249.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="woman-legs-walking-up-stairs"> </picture> <h3>3. Calf stretches</h3> <p><b>Type</b>: dynamic or static</p> <p><b>Dynamic</b>: Do a stair calf stretch. Find a staircase. Place the ball of your feet on the edge of a stair, so your midfoot and heel hang off. Put your body weight over the stair, and gently lean forward to the left leg or right leg. Alternate sides to stretch both feet, pulsing for one second each rep. </p> <p>Do 15 to 20 on each foot.</p> <p><b>Static</b>: Do a static stair calf stretch. Follow the instructions above, but hold each side for 10 to 15 seconds. </p> <p>Do 3 rounds.</p> <h3>4. Chest and back stretch</h3> <p><b>Type</b>: dynamic</p> <p>Do a standing variation of the ‘cat-cow’ yoga pose. Do your best cat impression, rounding your back fully and bring your arms in front of your body. Feel the stretch in your shoulders and lats. Then, bring your hands behind your back, opening up the chest. Your chest should look ‘proud’—stick it out like Tarzan does when he pounds his chest. Feel the stretch in your pecs. </p> <p>Alternate every 5 or so seconds and do each stretch 5 to 7 times.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section6"> <script type="application/ld+json">{"@context":"https://schema.org","@type":"FAQPage","mainEntity":[{"@type":"Question","name":"How do you stretch your feet before walking?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"If your feet need a stretch or your ankles are tight, try drawing the alphabet with your feet. ‘Draw’ each letter big so your feet muscles get a good stretch.\n\nAnother simple way to get your feet warmed up is to roll them on a lacrosse or tennis ball. It’s the same as foam-rolling a tight IT band, but for your feet."}}]}</script> <h2>How do you stretch your feet before walking?</h2> <p>If your feet need a stretch or your ankles are tight, try drawing the alphabet with your feet. ‘Draw’ each letter big so your feet muscles get a good stretch.</p> <p>Another simple way to get your feet warmed up is to roll them on a lacrosse or tennis ball. It’s the same as <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/5-stretches-for-IT-band/" rel="noreferrer">foam-rolling a tight IT band</a>, but for your feet.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section7"> <h2>Best stretches before walking—final thoughts</h2> <p>A quick warm-up and stretch before walking will help prevent injuries and get your joints ready for exercise. Preparing your body for activity with even a quick five-minute routine will ensure you’ll be able to get the most out of your workout and keep burning fat for a long time. </p> <p>Now, go enjoy that walk!</p> <h3>Resources</h3> <ol> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/minding-the-body/201608/walking-can-lift-your-mood-even-when-you-dont-expect-it" rel="nofollow noreferrer">Walking Can Lift Your Mood, Even When You Don't Expect It To</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://insights.ovid.com/pubmed?pmid=19855335" rel="nofollow noreferrer">Quantifying Differences in the “Fat Burning” Zone and the Aerobic Zone</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/exercise/workouts/walking/stretches-for-walking.php" rel="nofollow noreferrer">Stretches for Before and After Walking</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="http://web.mit.edu/tkd/stretch/stretching_5.html" rel="nofollow noreferrer">How to Stretch</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20045517" rel="nofollow noreferrer">Aerobic exercise: How to warm up and cool down</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/walking/index.htm" rel="nofollow noreferrer">Walking</a></li> </ol> </section> </article>

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