The more flexible the walker, the easier it will be to master the walking technique and put it to good use out on the road. The primary objective of the following exercises is to help develop a fuller range of motion.
Hip and Back Exercises
Crossovers Following a straight line (real or imaginary) on the ground in front of you, walk along it and land your right foot on the left side of the line and your left foot on the right side. Being careful not to loose your balance, take large enough steps to create a full rotation of your hips. All motion is from the waist down while the shoulders are held steady facing forward.
Leg Swing Standing on one leg (use a stationary object such as a wall or fence to help keep your balance) simply swing your outside leg forward and back, like a pendulum. After several repetitions, expand your range of motion by swinging it in a figure eight.
Lower Back Stretch Lie on your back and keep your lower back flat against the ground. Using your abdominal muscles, pull your legs toward your upper body. Hold your knees close to your chest while keeping your head on the ground and your spine elongated. Hold, release. Hold, release.
Hip Flexor Stretch Keeping the lower back flat, go into a lunge position with the knee positioned directly over the ankle. This is an important stretch to help a walker overcome an exaggerated arch in the lower back.
Windmills As you walk, rotate one fully extended arm in a circular motion. Keep your elbow straight as if you were doing the backstroke. Repeat with the other arm.
Shoulder Rolls With your arms at a rested position at your sides, make circular motions with your shoulders.
These flexibility exercises should be used along with basic static stretches for all the major muscle groups, including the quads, hamstrings, Achilles tendons, inner thighs and calves.
30% percent of a walker’s propulsion can be generated by the upper body. So, a strong upper body will increase power and stamina.
If you are not already in a strength training routine, here are a few common weight lifting exercises that will be beneficial.
They should be done with light weights and high repetitions.
• Shoulders – Overhead press • Chest – Bench press • Latissimus Dorsi – Lateral pull downs or pull ups • Back & Shoulders – Rowing • Abdominals – Crunches
If you do not have the time or access to equipment, incorporating bent knee or full body push ups into your daily routine will help.