Remember to stretch!
Stretching ñ as a warm-up, a break during repetitive movement, and a cool-down after your walk ñ helps you to move easily, keeps your muscles flexible and relaxed, your joints mobile, and relieves tension and strain.
A warm up before walking helps reduce the potential for muscle strain, injury and fatigue. Start out slowly on your route until you feel warm. Then take a few minutes to do the following stretches, and repeat them again at the end of your walk. On longer walks, it may be a good idea to stop and stretch at the mid-way point.
When stretching, remember
- Movements should be slow and controlled to the point where you feel a gentle pull of the muscle. If this pull lessens, stretch a little more. It should never be painful;
- Once you feel a stretch, hold the position for 15-20 seconds. Do not bounce or jerk;
- Repeat each stretch three times in the same direction; repeat for the opposite side.
Walking is one of the healthiest activities you can choose to help you maintain and gain physical mobility.
To gain mobility, plan activities throughout your day that keep you moving for periods of at least 10 minutes. To maintain your mobility, make every movement count. Add up all you do in a day and aim for a minimum of 60 minutes of movement every day. For maximum benefit, physiotherapists recommend regular physical activity and stretching to maintain your physical mobility throughout the year. The CPA presents its educational references as a public service and for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent the opinions of the CPA membership.
The right equipment makes a difference
- Walking shoes, waist pouches, backpacks, etc., are meant to ease the load, not cause additional strain. Take measures to fit your gear to you, not you to your gear.
- Breathe: Before starting out, relax and take a deep breath, which fills the lungs and moves them into their most efficient position. After you exhale, maintain the chest in this position, with shoulders down and slightly back. Throughout your walk, your speed should still allow you to carry on a conversation.
- Arms: Start with your arms hanging by your sides, loose and relaxed from your shoulders to your fingers. As you warm up, begin swinging the full length of your arms gently in keeping with your stride. You can get more of a workout from your walking program by more vigorous arm movement or by swinging arms that are bent at a 90-degree angle. Remember to ease off and finish the walk with the same gentle, relaxed arm movements you began with.
- Shop around for the right shoe. Your physiotherapist can make suggestions of what to look for in a walking shoe that best suits your needs and walking program;
- Replace old shoes. The average life of a walking shoe is approximately 400 to 600 miles (620 to 800 km); ï Monitor your posture and body mechanics. Make sure your head, shoulders and hips are lined up over your feet for a good walking posture;
- Keep your stride comfortable. Too long a stride makes for ìover-strideî – muscles tighten up and tire before your walk is done;
- Plan your walk route for your comfort (fairly flat for beginners, low hills for intermediate and steeper inclines for advanced); ï
- Walk the same route every other day. Rotate routes (from incline to flat, sidewalk to grass) to keep things interesting and to avoid over-use injuries;
- Don’t use wrist or ankle weights while walking as they put too much added stress on your joints.
Start your walking season slowly if you haven’t been active over the winter. Take time to recover between longer outings keep walking, but for shorter distances or at slower speeds; With proper clothing and footwear, you can plan your walks 12 months of the year.
Physiotherapy can help
The Canadian Physiotherapy Association (CPA) represents physiotherapists, physiotherapist assistants and physiotherapist students across Canada. CPA members are rehabilitation professionals dedicated to the health, mobility and fitness of Canadians.
Physiotherapists are primary health care professionals who combine their in-depth knowledge of the body and how it works with specialized hands- on clinical skills to assess, diagnose and treat symptoms of illness, injury or disability.
More than 20,000 registered physiotherapists work in Canada, in private clinics, general and rehabilitation hospitals, community health centres, residential care and assisted-living facilities, home visit agencies, workplaces, and schools.
Physiotherapists are healthcare professionals who help people of all ages and lifestyles gain and maintain their desired level of active living and physical mobility. With their applied knowledge and understanding of the human body in action, physiotherapists are able to help you to increase your mobility, relieve pain, build strength and improve balance and cardiovascular function.
Physiotherapists not only treat injuries, they also teach you how to prevent the onset of pain or injury that can limit your activity.