Gastrocnemius (calf muscle)
Stand facing a wall or tree, 3-4 feet away. Lean into the wall and lunge so that your left leg is straight behind you. The right leg is in front and bent at the knee. Make sure that both feet are facing 12 o'clock and your heels are on the ground. Lean into the wall until you feel mild tension, but no pain in your left calf. Drop your hips toward the wall. All your weight should be divided between your back leg and your hands. Not much weight on your front leg. Hold for at least 30 seconds. Change legs and repeat.
Return to the position for the #1 Stretch. Bring the back leg forward some and bend both knees. Make sure that both feet are pointing towards 12 o'clock and both heels are on the ground. Lean into the wall until you feel mild tension and no pain in the lower calf of the back leg (ankle area). Drop your hips toward the wall. All your weight should be divided between your back leg and your hands. Not much weight on your front leg. Hold for at least 30 seconds. Change legs and repeat.
Stand so that you may use your free hand to hold on for balance. Use your other hand to pick up the opposite foot. As in the photo, the right hand picked up the left foot. Bend down so that your hand can help to pick up the foot and bring it up so that your knee is pointing to the ground and your legs are together. Continue to maintain upright and erect posture. If you have difficulty holding onto your foot, grab your ankle or sock instead. If you do not feel much of a stretch, do a pelvic tilt while maintaining good posture. Hold for at least 30 seconds. Change legs and repeat.
Place one leg up on a short wall, a picnic table, or a chair. Keep your leg straight, but with a soft (not hyper-extended) knee. Do not bend your back – rather keep it flat (like an ironing board). Instead – pretend that your hip is the hinge. Bend forward just a tiny amount, at the hip hinge, until you feel mild tension, but no pain in the back of your thigh. If you feel the stretch in your calf, soften your knee a little. Hold for at least 30 seconds. Change legs and repeat.
To find this spot place your hand in the area where your leg creases and lift your leg. You should feel your muscle engage in the activity of picking up the leg.
Stand with feet in a wide stride. Your body is upright between both legs. The foot of the back leg is pointing straight, towards 12 o'clock, and the heel is on the ground. The front leg is bent and the foot is turned in slightly (for balance). Rise up on the toes of your back foot. Do a pelvic tilt. You should feel this stretch in a concentrated area of the hip hinge. Hold for at least 30 seconds. Change legs and repeat.
There is an alternate way to do this stretch if you have difficulty feeling it as shown in the photo. Kneel on the ground. Make sure that you are kneeling straight and have the bent leg directly under your body. The front leg is stabilizing you as you kneel. Once in this position, do a pelvic tilt. You should feel the stretch in the same area described above in the leg that is kneeling. Hold for at least 30 seconds. Change legs and repeat.
I.T. Band (Iliotibial Band) Banana Stretch
Stand sideways close to a wall, tree, or other supporting structure. Place your hand on the wall. Cross your feet so that the leg that is next to the wall is in front of your other foot. Lean your head and upper body away from the wall and lean your hip toward the wall. Note that your body is now shaped like a banana, hence the name – banana stretch. You should feel this stretch in the top of the hip that's next to the wall. Depending on your flexibility it may be more noticeable higher or lower in the side waist area. Hold for at least 30 seconds. Change legs and repeat.
For this stretch, your body should be leaning straight out to the side. Don't lean forward or backward. You can also hold in your stomach a little to protect your low back.
One easy way to "get" this stretch is follow these clues: "Right hand touches the wall. Right foot/toe cross over. Right hip bends into the wall. Pull your head away from the wall." Then follow the same sequence for the left side. "Left hand touches the wall. Left foot/toe cross over. Left hip bends into the wall. Pull your head away from the wall."
For all stretches:
♠ Make stretching a part of every walking workout.
♠ Stretch warm muscles either after your walking workout or at least after an 8 minute warm-up.
♠ DO NOT bounce when stretching.
♠ Aim for mild tension; no pain. If it hurts, back off.
♠ Hold stretches for at least 30 seconds.
♠ Anytime you're doing a bending stretch, hold in your abdominal muscles a little, to help protect your low back.
♠ If you're short on time, cut down a few minutes of your walking workout. Never cut out your stretching.