How To: Warm up and stretch correctly before exercise

Warm up and stretch correctly before exercise

Those stretches you learned as a kid – called "static stretching" – can actually weaken muscles before exercise. Learn how to warm up the right way, with "dynamic" stretching. Watch this video to learn how to warm up and stretch correctly before exercise.

You Will Need

* Well-fitting workout clothing
* Sneakers
* Space to move around

Step 1. Get your muscles warm

Wearing workout clothes and sneakers, raise your body temperature with five to 10 minutes of light aerobic activity, like easy jogging or cycling.

Step 2. Lift your knees

Walk in a straight line, alternately lifting your knees as high as you can; you can grab each knee with both hands when it's raised for more stability. This stretches the hamstring and all related muscles.

Specific sports are best served by specific stretches; ask a coach or trainer for advice.

Step 3. Kick your legs

To warm up your hamstrings even more, do a straight-leg march: Kick one leg straight out in front of you, with your unpointed toes flexed toward the ceiling, and reach your opposite arm toward that foot. Don't bend your torso. Lower your leg and take a step or two to maintain your balance.

Step 4. Lunge forward

Do walking lunges: With your arms crossed in front of your chest so the fingertips on each hand touch the opposite shoulder, take a long step forward until your back leg is almost straight and then sit down into the lunge. Now twist your torso toward your back leg. Be careful not to bend forward or back.

Step 5. Reach for the sky

Reach one arm toward the sky and bend the opposite leg so your heel touches your butt; use the arm on that side to hold your leg there for a second before releasing.

Step 6. Do the bear crawl

Do the bear crawl: Get down on your hands and toes, with your butt in the air and your knees off the floor.

FACT: Golfers who did dynamic stretching exercises and practice swings before their game increased their club-head speed, accor

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