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Safe Workouts Begin with a Good Warm-Up

By Charles Hopkins Published 04/21/2006 | Fitness
It is starting to become warmer, and many people will be returning to their fitness routines. Most sports injuries that happen when a person works out are caused due to a lack of proper warm up and stretching of the muscles before a workout.

It has been said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This is definitely the case when you start to workout or do your fitness routine. Sore muscles, sprains, and even broken bones can result from not warming up your body prior to conditioning.

The best medicine for saving yourself the agony of 'the morning after syndrome' is to properly stretch out before your workout and then to warm up by doing some light jogging. You can use an ipod and listen to music, or take a friend with you for company.

Start by doing a simple stretching exercise. First, stand with your feet shoulder length apart. Reach down as far as you can with both hands and try to touch the floor. Don't jerk, but simply extend your arms to the floor slowly and hold that position until you feel slight pressure on your leg and back muscles. Repeat this 5 times.

Next, sit on a mat or semi-soft surface. Put both of your feet directly in front of you and together. Extend your hands slowly and touch the tips of your shoes if you can. If you can't quite reach that far don't worry, this is the reason you are doing the stretching exercises in the first place. Your body needs to expand the ligaments and muscles to allow for the pressure of the upcoming workout. Repeat this stretching exercise up to 10 times.

These two stretching exercises will get you ready for moving around and working out as well as start the process of blood flow in your body.

If you plan to run for your workout it is suggested that you stretch your legs and hamstrings ( back of the upper leg ). To do this you extend one foot in front of the other far enough so most of your weight is on the front foot. Then slowly shift the rest of your weight forward while placing both hands on your knee. Hold this position for about 5 seconds after you feel a tightening pressure on your back and legs. Do this 10 times slowly for each leg.

It is wise to take your time when stretching out. The better job you do of loosening up when you stretch, the less likelihood of any sports injury occurring.

Another easy way to stretch your whole body is to do about 30 'jumping jacks'. This is merely jumping and spreading your feet apart at the same time you raise your hands just like you were going to clap your hands above your head. This is an enjoyable exercise, and one that lends itself easily to music. This is a standard exercise that is good in itself as it increases your blood flow and heartbeat. You may find that you want to do more that 30 jumping jacks at a time. Just remember to start slow if you are a beginner.

Now that you have stretched out your legs and loosened up a bit, take a slow jog for about 3 or 4 minutes. Then you will be ready to do a nice workout without fear of pulling any muscles.

Stretching and warming up will prevent sore muscles the day after your workout when you do it regularly. And it will reduce the incidence of sports injuries such as torn muscles. Just remember a great workout always begins with a solid warm up routine every time.