Warm-up before a walk?
Always! It is always a good idea to do a few simple exercises before, after, and also as you walk. Your body will thank you for it! Loosening up your muscles and getting the blood flowing will make sure your organs and tissue get the oxygen they need. Olga Commandeur has a few tips.
Tip 1: Posture, posture, posture!
‘Although this first tip is not really a warm-up exercise, it is the basis for the following exercises and simply important for your body in general: teach yourself an active posture. Stand up straight, pull your chin in, as if you were surprised, and push your shoulders back a bit. You will feel the muscles in your abdomen and your back contract slightly. And you will notice that it becomes easier to lift your legs and arms. Remember this active posture and make it second nature. It will benefit you for the rest of your life.’
Tip 2: Do not overcomplicate it
‘Before you start walking, loosen up your knees and ankles, as these will bear the brunt of the effort. Do this by rolling over your feet. Keep your toes on the ground, push your knees forward, and let your heels come off the ground. Swing back and forth like this several times. Both feet at the same time.’
Tip 3: Standing cat-cow stretch
‘When you get to a rest stop, make sure you take a minute to relax. Bend forward, rest your hands on your knees, move your feet apart slightly, and do the cat-cow stretch, arching and lowering your back to loosen up your spine. People walking with a rucksack in particular will have a tendency to start trudging. This quick stretch will perk your spine right up.’
Tip 4: Quick contractions
‘This is another back exercise, for your upper back in particular: stand up straight, spread out your fingers and move your open hands backwards up to shoulder height. Your hands, elbows, and your head will then make a ‘W’ shape together. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and maintain this posture briefly. Relax and then repeat it three times. Feel the tension in your shoulders and upper back ease.’
Tip 5: Stretching
‘Cooling down after a day of walking: stretch your calf muscles. Put one foot forward, bend the front knee and push your hips forward until you feel your calf muscle stretch. The back foot must be straight and point forward, with your heel on the ground. Maintain this position and then put the other foot forward.’
If you do these exercises, the chances are you will walk a lot more smoothly during these Four Days Marches.
For the fifth time, Olga, who is an ambassador for the Dutch Parkinson's Society, will be organising a fun warm-up session at De Wedren on Monday. And you are invited to join in! Olga: ‘Exercise is important for everyone. Because walking is such an accessible form of exercise, it is particularly well-suited for people with Parkinson’s disease. Walking helps keep brain activity going, keeps muscles in shape, and is good for your bones.’