Cooling down

Having covered the reasons why we always do a warm up prior to Nordic walking in a previous article, here are the benefits of doing the post walk stretches.

After your walk it’s important to gently cool down your muscles and stretch them out rather than stopping suddenly and jumping straight into the car or flopping down to drink coffee and eat cake.

Muscles are made up of masses of fibres that contract and shorten when worked hard, so it’s important to lengthen them after the workout to help them recover from the activity, and improve their condition and tone, rather than allowing them to simply tighten and feel sore.

Stretching also conditions the tendons that connect the muscles to our bones, so regular gentle stretching gradually improves your range of movement, and it feels good too.

Stretching is something to enjoy and to take time over as to be effective each stretch should be held for 10 – 30 seconds. You do notice that your ability to stretch further improves over time. It’s really good to think about your breathing when stretching as it helps you to focus and progress the stretch.

When walking, the calf muscles are responsible for the upward and forward momentum in the “push-off” stage of walking, which raises the heel off the ground. As the heel touches the ground, the muscles then lower the foot and toes. The push-off phase of walking also uses the hamstring muscles found in the back of the thighs. The body uses the quadriceps (front thigh) muscles when extending each leg while walking. In the swing phase, the hip flexor muscles raise the thigh forward. Nordic walking also works the gluteal or buttock muscles.

When you walk with a natural, upright posture, your abdominal muscles get strengthened. Also, the arm and shoulder and back muscles are used when you are Nordic walking.