The 5-Minute Stretching Routine That Will Keep You Walking Strong

stretching routine for walkers

No one wants to extend their workout longer than they have to, but experts say skipping a post-walk stretch session is a bad idea. “Absolutely, definitely, positively stretch after your walks,” says walking coach Michele Stanten, an ACE-certified fitness instructor and the author of Walk Off Weight.

Although it’s debatable whether stretching keeps soreness at bay or prevents injuries, says Stanten, it does still serve an important purpose. “Your muscles are warmer at the end of a walk so it’s easier to increase your range of motion and flexibility,” says Stanten. “And if you want to keep walking as you get older, you need to maintain your flexibility and range of motion. That’s really the reason you want to make sure you’re doing it.”

Plus, it just feels good. And who doesn’t like to end a workout on a high note? So take a look at the post-walk stretching routine below and then give it a go after your next step session. If the weather is good, you can do it outside. Otherwise head indoors, power up the blender for a recovery smoothie and sip while you stretch.

Stretching Routine for Walkers

Do each exercise below at least once, stretching each leg for at least 30 seconds. “Holding a stretch for 30 seconds has the most benefit,” says Stanten, “but if you can get up to a minute for each leg, even better.”  

Standing Quadriceps Stretch
Targets: Quadriceps, hip flexors

stretching routine standing quad stretch

Stand tall with feet shoulder-width apart. Using your left hand, reach back and grab your left foot or left ankle and pull it towards your butt. Tuck your tailbone under and make sure your knee is pointing straight down toward the floor. Hold for at least 30 seconds; switch legs and repeat.

If you’re having trouble balancing, stand next to a wall, chair, tree or any other sturdy, stationary object and use your opposite hand to balance. “I really encourage people, even if they have good balance, to use a wall,” says Stanten. “You’ll get a better stretch if you’re not worried about falling.”

Straight-Leg Calf Stretch
Targets: Calves, hip flexors

stretching routine calf stretch

Standing tall, extend your right leg straight back, placing your heel flat on the ground. Without bending your back knee, gently push your body forward from your pelvis. Your front knee should be directly over your ankle. Hold for at least 30 seconds; switch legs and repeat.

“This one you can also do with your hands against a wall,” says Stanten. “Think about shifting your hips toward the wall.”

Standing Figure Four Hip Stretch
Targets: Hips, glutes, lower back

stretching routine figure four hip stretch

Stand up with your feet together and squat down as if you’re about to sit in a chair. Lift your left leg and cross that ankle over your right thigh. Sit into the stretch—your right leg should be bent—and gently push your bent knee down. Hold for at least 30 seconds; switch legs and repeat.

“If you have trouble doing this stretch, you can hold onto a post or railing and sit back. Or do the stretch sitting on a chair or bench,” says Stanten.

Posterior Shoulder Stretch
Targets: Shoulders, upper back

stretching routine shoulder stretch

Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart and roll your shoulders down and back. Bring your left arm across your body, and use your right arm to gently push your left arm towards your right shoulder. Hold for at least 30 seconds; switch arms and repeat.

Resistance Band Hamstring Stretch
Targets: Hamstrings

stretching routine resistance band hamstring stretch

Sit on the ground or on an exercise mat with your legs straight out in front of you. Loop a resistance band (or a jump rope or towel) around the arch of your right foot and, grasping the ends of the band in both hands, lie back. Bend your left leg, keeping your foot flat on the ground, and extend your right leg up until it’s perpendicular with the ground or you feel a comfortable stretch. Keep your right leg as straight as possible without locking your knee and your hips and lower back against the ground. Hold for at least 30 seconds; switch legs and repeat.

45 Comments   Join the Conversation

45 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I kept looking for a “print” button, so I could get a clean print without all of the extraneous “stuff,” to no avail. Please include PRINT buttons on all of your articles.

      • The stretches can be done anytime. But the recommendation to do them after a walk is good because your muscles are warm and loosened up a bit. You can do them after walking anyplace including the grocery store. I don’t know what the minimum walk time would be; it might be as low as 10 min, but probably 20. These stetches listed above are also good to improve balance which helps to prevent falls. AND remember to breath (you have to do that anyway) and relax if you can.

    • To print webpages without extras copy web address, go to printfriendly.com, enter address and convert to pdf.
      More features and functions.

    • I copied and pasted to a new doc, saved it to my desktop, so that I could print it, or move it to My Documents on my Computer.

  • If you’re using an iPhone or iPad you can hit the send to icon then select save as a PDF to iBooks. It will save the whole article. You do get the advertisements but you can skip pages.

  • If you a using an iPad or iPhone you can save by clicking on the send to icon then choosing save as a PDF to iBooks. You get all the ads too but you can skip pages in your document.

  • I highlighted the pictures and instructions for the stretches, hit ctrl+p for print, clicked on “print selection” and it printed without all the extra stuff.

  • I highlifhted the pictures and instructions fir the stretches, hit “ctrl+p”, clicked on “print selection”, and it printed without the extra stuff.

  • awesome im really enjoying new stretches i just finished today i have sciatica and i didnot overstretch and feel not sore ,incontrol more confidence thankyou daniel thanks fitbit

    • Indeed that’s for a well needed remedied, cause I think warm-up takes to much time, and like you have said most people will do the stretching and cool down which I always do but not the warming up,which I do know about .

  • Thank you..I walk every day for an hour or hour and a half each day..i have never streached before ..I am going to try some of these..thank you ..also it would be nice to be able to print ..or even a video to follow..

  • These stretches are very quick and helpful for me. I have trouble with my ankles, and the calf stretch here is only half of the calf. I Rock back and sit down toward the heal for the second muscle. It is very important to not lift the heal of the stretched leg off the ground for either of the two muscles.

  • It makes me laugh when I read these instructions.Everyone that does exercise isn’t young.
    I am 85 yrs old. can you see me doing these searches?

    • Yes, I can. I’m 72 with 3 major knee surgeries in my right leg. All the info would be boring.
      But just let me say that she gave an alternative for us older ladies in each exercise: useung the wall or chair etc.
      Using the band on the floor will find me using it in the bed.
      WE CAN DO IT.

      • You are right. She did give alternative positions for us. I have also had 3 surgeries in my right leg. Strength, balance and pain is improving, but he still wants me to use the walker. Fitbit on my arm will not pickup using a walker. My surgeon said to attach it to my shoe. Viola! It works.

  • I walk everywhere. I’ve reheumatoid arthritis and trying to stay fit, keeping in remission, and would like to know if you have more articles with people like me in mind. Don’t want to give in to the pain.

    • I have severe osteoarthritis and pitched nerves in my cervical neck flexion is out for me .I have stopped walking due to my husband had brain cancer and I cared for him, then he passed. That was 2 years ago .I became so depressed I stopped doing any exercise .I need to start walking again I will work through this pain ,at my age there are no other options .all the coach exercise are for people that do not seem to have any limitations .I would like to see some articles or coaching for people that have limits.

  • I enjoy walking, but it is very cold here now. I was wondering if anyone has any exercises for someone that has a knee replacement? I sure would like to have some easy ones to start with and work up to harder one. Thanks.

  • Thank you for this. I love running but due to IT band syndrome on the left I also suffer with hamstring on the right so I’ve now been reduced to walking sadly since September last year. These stretches will help with the hamstring but what can I do about the IT band?

  • Yes, I thought these appropriate. I sit at a desk all day and stop at the gymn before going home. These exercises can be done at work. Very helpful. Thanks

  • Hi, i am glad i saw your exercise program before walking. I have taken up walking with my wife but have been cycling for years. I do have a hip replacement for over 10 years and the cycling has never been a problem but since i have been walking the outside of my hip gets painfull after 8 kilometers and through the night. Do you think the stretching before walking and after will sort my problems out or do you have any other advice. I dont take any medication.

  • I am originally from Georgia, I now lives in Massachusetts, I used to power walk every day in Georgia, I have not walk for over a year now, but when I walk now my calves is the problem , they tighten and hurt so badly, what can I do to minimize this problem. I also don’t know how to ride a bike, could you give me some ideas on how to begin riding a bike. I will be 62 years young on June 28.

  • Having trouble with some instructions. For example “Lift your left leg and cross that ankle over your right thigh. Sit into the stretch—your right leg should be bent—and gently push your bent knee down.”. Which bent knee do you push down. They are both bent.

    Don’t get any stretch from this one. My left arm just bends to touch shoulder
    .” Bring your left arm across your body, and use your right arm to gently push your left arm towards your right shoulder”

  • I HAVE A HEART MURMER. I GET TIRED JUST WALKING A VERY SHORT DISTANCE, HOW CAN I GET MY WEIGHT DOWN BESIDES EATING LESS AND MORE FRUITES, AND VEGIES. HELP….

  • since i had my gallbladder surgery i had more energy and i have no more pain i been walking alot lately but the one thing i don’t do before or after walking are Stretching i know i have to start one day but it so hard.

  • What exercise is best for your tummy I have s big tummy and I have belly hernia my age is 71year old what is best I am not interested in surgery

  • Your stretching times,
    are well comparable to those
    I have learned.

    **The figure-4 hip stretch
    is unknown to me ??
    Need to try,
    so can assess effectiveness !!

    **The leg-pull to butt, in itself,
    is effective within limits !!
    –After regular use,
    body does adapt to,
    and “stretch” is lost.
    –Once stretch is lost,
    one should move to
    the “Ballerina” pose !!

    ******************
    **”Ballerina” pose !! **
    –Stand beside or full arm length
    from a solid support.
    –lift leg to behind butt (as other)
    ++Bend forward at waist,
    while holding and pushing back
    of leg to stretch !!
    (Will need support/balance point !!)

    BTW
    I and aprox 10% who try only
    to butt, find “butt” is not enough

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