Stretching prevents injury and fosters free-flowing, graceful movement. Tight muscles can lead to tears, pulls and strains, even for fitness walkers. Stretch every time you walk. On your days off, stretch. Always warm up before stretching by walking for a few minutes at a leisurely pace. And stretch when you’re done.
You’re probably familiar with the traditional calf stretch where you stand by a wall, stretch one leg back and press your heel into the ground. Here’s a more advanced stretch that some people find more effective. (Caution: Stretch gently and don’t bounce.)
Find a step or curb near a pole or tree. Use the pole to maintain balance as you place your toes on the edge of the step. While keeping your legs straight, lower your heels slowly and feel the stretch in your calf. If you feel more comfortable, stretch just one calf at a time, using your other leg to maintain your balance.
You can do this stretch on a step or a curb. Be sure you have something to lean on to help you maintain your balance. New to stretching? Use the beginner stretch, which is easier to control.