Last month I talked a lot about walking for wellness.
To follow up, I want to emphasize the importance of stretching before walking or running activities.
No matter your age, stretching your legs is always beneficial, but why? When we exercise, we are pumping up our muscles.
Those muscles go from a loose/flaccid state to a tight pumped-up muscle… think of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s biceps.
Those tighter muscles pull the tendons which in turn pull the bones around their joints.
When our joints can’t extend all the way due to tighter muscles, our body mechanics adapt to fulfill the movement task but at cost. Stretching our muscles before and after we pump them up helps decrease or eliminate that adaptive cost.
The cost of this mechanical adaptation can be an overuse injury.
Follow me on this anatomy lesson: tight calf muscle pulls the Achilles tendon, which pulls on the heel bone, which pulls on the plantar fascia. The overuse results are Achilles tendonitis and/or plantar fasciitis.
A good stretch helps decrease the pull of that calf muscle which can prevent these problems.
Tight muscles also affect posture…think low back pain.
Tight hamstring muscles commonly contribute to low back pain because they apply torque on the pelvis which alters the posture of your lower back.
Failing to stretch the hamstrings before exercise means the pelvis position becomes limited when walking.
Our low back muscles then have to work harder to correct our posture, which leads to strained muscles and pain. It’s all connected!
Take a few extra minutes to stretch before your next walk or run and compare the difference it makes. Hold your stretch for 10-20 seconds and do it on both sides.
Repeat once or twice. You’ll thank me later.
For help with this, call Sohl Foot & Ankle at 267-699-3839.
PHOTO CAP: Simple stretches before exercise can prevent overuse injuries and muscle strains.