Top 10 Warm Up Stretches
Written by: Catalogs.com Editorial Staff
February 22, 2012
Filed Under Fitness
Contributed by Jennifer Andrews, Catalogs.com Top 10 Guru
Warming up is an important aspect of an overall workout and fitness program.
In addition to the workout itself, a warm-up and cool-down should be performed to decrease the risk of injury and improve your exercise efficiency.
A good warm-up should increase blood flow and circulation to cold and tired muscles to help prepare them for exercise. Always start your warm-up with light jogging or jumping jacks to avoid pulling a cold muscle. Then, try these top ten warm up stretches to your regular fitness routine to achieve a fitter body.
10. Quadriceps stretch
The quadriceps muscle is composed of the four big muscles in the anterior thigh. Perform this stretch by standing tall and bending one leg at the knee to grab your ankle behind you. Lightly apply pressure by pulling up on your foot until you feel a stretch in the front of your thigh. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds.
9. Hamstring Stretch
Sit down on a mat or firm surface and stretch your legs out in front of you. Keeping your back straight, bend at the hips and reach your arms forward to try to touch your toes. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds to stretch out the muscles in the back of your thighs.
8. Calf stretch
The calf muscle is the muscle in the back of the lower leg below the knee. Stretch this muscle by placing both hands up against a wall at shoulder-height. Step one leg backwards a few steps while bending your front knee. Keep your back leg straight with heel on the floor and lightly press hands into the wall until you feel a stretch in the back leg.
7. Knee-to-chest stretch
A knee-to-chest stretch helps stretch out the muscles in the lower back which are prone to tightness and injury. Lie on your back on a firm surface and bend one knee into chest while keeping the opposite leg straight and in a relaxed position.
6. Shoulder stretch
Stretch out the muscles in your shoulder with a simple cross-arm stretch. To do this stretch, stand tall and reach one arm across the front of your body at shoulder-height. With your opposite hand, apply gentle pressure to the back of your stretching arm and hold for approximately 30 seconds. Repeat with opposite arm.
5. Neck stretch
Stretch the muscles that help bend and rotate the neck with a gentle side neck stretch. Gently bend head to one side and lower your ear down to your shoulder. For a deeper stretch, apply gentle pressure to the side of your head with your hand.
4. Chest stretch
The large and smaller chest muscles can be stretched prior to a weight-training workout. Try a simple doorway stretch which is done by placing hands on both sides of a door way at about shoulder-height with elbows bent. Gently lean into the doorway until you feel a light stretch in the front of your chest. Alternatively, do one arm at a time for a deeper stretch.
3. Skipping rope
Skipping rope can be an intense physical activity on its own, thus avoid vigorously skipping or getting your heart rate up too high for a warm-up. Rather, skip lightly and gently by alternating feet during skips and having fun with it for approximately 3 to 5 minutes with breaks as needed.
2. Hip flexor stretch
Stretch out your hip flexors by getting into a lunge position with the knee of your back leg on a comfortable surface. Gently lean forward at the hips, bending the front knee, until you feel a stretch in the hip flexor and thigh of the posterior leg.
Side-bends are reminiscent of old-school calisthenics typically performed in grade school. This basic exercise stretches out the muscles at the sides of the body along the waist-line, including the latissimus dorsi and rotating back muscles.