S.ummertime is almost here (finally!) and that means more daylight, and more time outside. Whether you are able to take a vacation or be happy to be out of the house more often, most of us find ourselves walking a lot more than usual. When the sun is shining, our plans are more likely to take us outside — hikes, shopping and sightseeing trips, even to the beach to find that perfect spot on the beach.

Walking in the summer is great for your body, but if your level of physical activity suddenly increases, you may have pain and soreness in your legs and feet. To keep your muscles from moving after all these extra miles, we’ve contacted Dave Candy, DPT, a board-certified specialist in orthopedic physical therapy and owner of More 4 Life PT.

Which muscle is screaming for a better stretch?

Dr. Candy says calves and glutes are the main drivers of walking progress, as they are the muscles that move the body forward during push-offs. Hip flexors also help the swing part of the stride, while keeping your feet away from the ground.

Also, the abducting muscles of your buttocks on the outside of your buttocks “help keep your body in balance while standing on one leg,” says Dr. Candy. And walking on flat ground doesn’t require much effort from the quadriceps muscles, “If you are walking in the mountains or walking up stairs, the demand for quads increases.”

Finally, the shin, ankle, and leg muscles work together to produce the proper amount of leg articulation.

Stretch the two best after the walk

Long after creating that step count, stretching can help your body recover. As physical therapist Corinne Cross previously said, Well + Good, stretching after any type of exercise “can reduce the strength and shrinkage of working muscles, increase blood flow, and … help us to clear the waste products that have accumulated while working.” Setting aside just a few minutes after a long walk will help you reduce tension and maintain mobility.

The most important muscles for walking are calf and hip flexors, Dr. Candy said. This is because if your calves are not flexible enough to allow your toes to bend adequately towards your shin as you move forward completely, “your body will find an alternate path around your feet, which is usually extra pronounced,” he explains. . “Similarly, if you can’t get your legs back when you push and stretch towards your buttocks, it could be the arch of your lower back, which can cause back pain when walking.”

The calf stretches

  • Stand facing a wall with both feet pointing towards the wall.
  • Go forward with one foot and keep the heel flat on the floor that you are extending your back.
  • Keep the arch of the hind leg domed –No. Allow the legs to flatten or rotate inwards.
  • Hold for a minute, then repeat on the other side.

Extend the hip flexor

  • Bend the knees at the position of the lungs with the other leg in front of the knee that you are extending to the ground.
  • Roll your pelvis under you to keep your back flat.
  • Push your pelvis forward until you feel the front of your feet on the ground. Don’t The arches allow your lower back. (You’ll be amazed at how quickly you feel stretched if you keep your lower back in a neutral position.)
  • Hold for a minute, then repeat on the other side.

Trainer Tracy Copeland in this video at 2:03 minutes watch this extended show:

Cross-train with these six powerful exercises for walkers

Like the rest of life, an active approach will serve you best. If you prepare yourself not only to stretch your body to manage extra walking this summer, but also to strengthen the muscles that you will use to take these steps, you will not find yourself in pain at the end of the day. Dr. Candy recommends the following:

Single foot balance

Dr. Candy says that this simple exercise is actually one of the best ways to prepare your body for walking. “It strengthens the hip abduction muscles, which can prevent the fall of older adults as well as prevent back, knee and hip pain when people of all ages walk,” he explained.

  • Stand up straight with good posture, engage your core and glutes, and then stand on one leg for 30 seconds.
  • Try not to catch anything, but stand close to something that you can catch.

Raise the heel

Although many people are familiar with raising heels, Dr. Candy says we often do them incorrectly. “It’s important to keep your heel and Achilles tendon vertical and not allow the ankle to twist too much (pronet) or (supinate),” he said.

  • Hang one or both heels from the stairs.
  • Drop your heels and then come up on top of your toes, be sure to keep your heels straight instead of turning your ankles in or out.
  • Do 20 repetitions on both legs together or 12 to 15 on each leg individually.

Arch Doming

Using the small muscles of your feet to slightly wrinkle your toes and create an arch with this exercise, you can help prevent excessive accent, which is a common problem. “It can be combined with one-legged balance to save time as well as make it harder,” says Dr. Candy.

  • Stand up straight with bare feet, curl under your toes, create a “C” shape with your feet, accentuate your arch.
  • Hold for a few seconds, then relax and repeat.
  • Complete 12 to 15 repetitions per foot.


Squats-like lungs are one of the classic exercises for strengthening the glutes and quadriceps. However, Dr. Candy believes that lungs are higher than squats for walkers and runners because the burden is primarily on your front legs. “The lungs allow the hip abductors and hip muscles to strengthen at the same time,” he explained.

To maximize the benefits of lung strengthening and prevent knee pain, Dr. Candy recommends keeping your weight in your ankles and keeping your knees aligned with your toes. “When your weight is higher in your ankles than in your toes, it uses up your gluteus maximus muscle more than your quad. In addition, it helps to strengthen the hip abductors from falling inside the knee (the most common mistake) or out of the toes, ”he said.

To get the most out of it, make sure your lungs are working properly:

Single leg mini squat

Although single-leg mini squats strengthen some of the muscles that work with the lungs, the exercises target these muscles somewhat differently. According to Dr. Candy, “Single-leg mini-squats require more balance to control their legs, so they usually help the hip abductors and hip rotator muscles to be stronger than the lungs, but not the gluteus maximus.”

  • Stand up straight with good posture, and engage your core as soon as you lift one foot off the ground.
  • Bend your knees and buttocks at the supporting legs. When you sit back in the squat, go as deep as you can handle.
  • You can gently lean on a surface for balance, but try to use your supporting legs to stand back up – do not lean on your arms.
  • Repeat 10 to 15 times on each side.

Walking heels

Walking on your heels with your toes up may seem ridiculous, but it can help strengthen the anterior tibialis anterior muscle. “It helps to make sure that you lift your toes properly when you move your feet, so that they do not drag you to the ground,” says Dr. Candy. This exercise can also help keep your puck from “slapping” the ground and help absorb shock. Ultimately, it can help prevent shin splints, a common and sometimes debilitating injury among walkers and runners.

  • Keep your core tight and your posture long, walk 30 to 50 meters on your heels and then walk backwards.
  • Repeat two to three times.

Extra tips for safe summer walks

Build your mileage slowly: Increasing your activity level too fast can cause injury. “After the winter, a lot of people get cabin fever and they are motivated to go out and start walking routines,” says Dr. Candy. “However, if you start walking too much too early, you can cause an injury that prevents you from walking as much as you would like during the rest of the summer.”

Drinking lots of water: Sweating more than you think. Being properly hydrated can help your muscles recover.

Get enough sleep: The body needs to recover from excess activity. Practice good sleep hygiene with a regular sleep routine to optimize your rest.

Eat nutritious food: Your body needs nutrients like protein, vitamins, minerals and adequate energy to repair tissues after exercise.

Don’t ignore the pain: “If you have pain that is more than just a pain, or if it is bothersome and doesn’t seem to go away, contact a physical therapist to check it out and find out what you can do to walk more safely. , “Advises Dr. Candy.

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