If you're still performing slow, controlled stretches to warm up before practice, you could actually be increasing your chances for an injury. Static stretching has its place in a workout routine, just not in a warm-up.
The preferred warm-up method of top athletes: dynamic movements that allow the body to move through a full range of motion. You start on your feet by getting your heart rate up and your blood flowing. (See how the two STACK up: Dynamic Warm-Up vs. Static Stretching.)
Below is a sample dynamic mobility warm-up that will prepare you for competition. Before your next game or practice, try warming up properly. You will increase your body's readiness and decrease your chances of injury. After you break a light sweat, finish the warm-up and remember to move dynamically. Don't hold each stretch. Instead, move fluidly through the exercise. Complete four sets of each exercise for 40-feet across.
(Find even more warm-up stretches and movements in STACK's Warm-Up Guide.)
Start by just jogging at a medium pace. No more than 50 percent.
Lift your knees nice and high as you run.
Run kicking your heels back toward your butt.
Lateral Shuffle with Arm Circles
Facing sideways, shuffle without crossing your feet, and circle your arms. Face the same direction on the way back.
Backpedal with Hip Openers
As you back-pedal, lift one knee and open your hips to the outside. Alternate legs.
Sprint full speed only slowing down for the last 10 feet.
Stand with your toes slightly pointed out and your feet shoulder-width apart. Squat down by lowering your hips and grab your toes. Keep your head high. As you raise your hips, lower your head while extending your hips, knees, and ankles. Continue to hold your toes the entire time.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend forward at the waist and bring your hands to the floor in front of you. Slowly walk your hands out until you are in a Plank. This should look like the top of a Push-Up. Then slowly lift your hips high as you walk your feet towards your hands. Lock out your hips and knees and think of moving only from your ankles.
Lie face-down on the ground. Extend your arms out to the side to form the letter "T." Extend your right leg behind you, lift it up and drop it toward your left hand. Do not let your arms and shoulders come off the ground. Reach your leg toward your hand and flex your knee. Repeat on the other side.
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