Exercise Q&A

Q. I am a 45-year-old female who has been working out four to five days per week (cardio and strength training each day) for the last five months. Are there any other stretches to keep my hamstrings loose? I'm not plagued with shin trouble from running, but my calves cramp in the evenings.

A. Even if you're smart about your workout, you're in for some aches if you don't know how to end a session.

We took your question to Michael Hamberger, who goes by the title of DC Running Coach, to come up with a post-exercise plan for you. Start by cooling down: Walk a little bit or mount a stationary bike and pedal at a steady, comfortable pace for a few minutes, he says. Then move into "dynamic stretching." Instead of staying put and holding a pose, flex while moving for about five minutes. "Swing your leg back and forth like a pendulum," he suggests. Now switch legs. Then treat yourself to a massage, but there's no need to sign up with a pro.

Hamberger raves about the Stick, a product that looks just as you'd expect but has super powers when it comes to making muscles happier. After hitting the showers, follow the most pleasant of Hamberger's commandments: Eat something. "Food will stop the muscles from breaking down," he explains. That routine should keep you feeling groovy, as long as you sustain your exercise schedule. Even a well-stretched and kneaded muscle will feel sore if it's not accustomed to exertion.

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