Before you start your workout, you should always warm up! I follow the line of thinking that stretching comes at the end of a workout, NOT the beginning. So…
To warm-up, either do 5-10 mins of light cardio, or some dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretching is a form of active stretching. It increases range of movement, blood and oxygen flow to soft tissues prior to exertion. Increasingly coaches and sports trainers are aware of the role in dynamic stretching in improving performance and reducing the risk of injury. For example, runners might do several goofy walks. High knees. Long straight legs. Walking lunges. Even backwards walk. These warm up the hip flexors and knees which are both going to get a hard workout when running.
Before a strength training workout, I do arm windmills and cross-overs for my chest and arms. Torso twists for my core. And quick, shallow squats and marching in place for legs. OR… for those of you who really know me, know that I actually dance around my garage to Ke$ha, Lady GaGa, or Katy Perry most of the time:) LOL! Just anything that will get your muscles warm and pliable BEFORE you start lifting.
Also, a VERY good one for those of you with bad knees…VERY old school, but KNEE CIRCLES! http://youtu.be/DDuzDzqhEzI Seriously! Looks goofy, but it warms the joint. Do about 10 slowly in each direction. Your knees will thank you:)
AND COOL DOWNS! If I am doing cardio, I will simply slow it down for a good 5 mins or so to cool down. I also LOVE to stretch after a workout. I spend anywhere from 5-15 mins after a workout on the floor stretching my entire body, primarily focusing on the body parts that I worked the hardest that day.
There are alot of different theories on this, but this is what has worked for me.
Have a Happy Workout:)