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A Good Warm Up and Stretch to Maximize Performance.

It was a beautiful 70 degree day yesterday and I was tossing the football in the backyard with my son K.J. After about 30 minutes we decided to stop and go into the house to relax. I sat in my favorite recliner and realized that my throwing arm was stiffening up so I decided to stretch it . During my stretch I was thinking that I should have warmed up and stretched prior to throwing the ball.


Its no secret about the importance of warming up your body and stretching. It took me a while to realize that preparing your body for any physical activity is important and necessary. All athletes do it before their performances to avoid injury. It's a no-brainer that we should too. Okay, now that we know we should warm up and stretch, the next question is how do we determine if we have done these things correctly.


A general warm-up should be done first, followed by your stretching routine. Performing a proper warm-up involves the process of slightly raising your body temperature while increasing blood and oxygen circulation throughout your body. Your body temperature should increase by one to two degrees Celsius. Once completed, you are ready to stretch which will increase the circulation of blood and oxygen throughout the soft tissue (i.e. muscles) of your body. This will prepare your muscles, ligaments, tendons, and skeletal frame for exercises that you are going to perform.


The creation of a warm up and stretching routine will improve your joint flexibility and range of motion, decrease the probability of injury, relieve tension and stress, and even accelerate the healing process associated with several types of injuries.


Below are some tips to help you prepare your body for maximum performance while avoiding injury. Note: (Do the tips below at your own pace and stop if you get tired to conserve energy for exercise)


1. Always warm up first to get the blood circulating to the tissues before stretching. A brisk walk or jog for 5 to 10 minutes should do the trick.


2. Do dynamic stretches (Not Static Stretching) which are slow controlled movements instead of holding a stretch. If your into Yoga then your on the right track.


3. Do a goose-step march - Slowly lift your leg straight out in front of you, alternating as you walk with your normal stride length to stretch your ham strings.


4. Knee lifts: As you're jogging or walking, bring knees up toward your chest. For a variation, as your right knee comes up, twist the lifted leg gently to the left and your upper body gently to the right for a spinal twist. Repeat on each side as you jog or walk.


5. Butt-kick: As you jog or walk, bend one knee and lift it behind you as if you were trying to kick yourself in the butt to stretch the quadriceps.


6. Do static stretches after your workout to lengthen muscles and improve your flexibility. Hold static stretches for about 30 seconds.


7. Never stretch to the point of pain.


8. Stretch to de-stress. Personally, I do this step to relax and put my mind at ease during stressful situations. Trust me! It helps.


So now, I know you are hyped to start that work out, but remember to warm up and stretch first!


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