Even if you've done your best to forget about high school gym class, one of the things you likely remember is that the teacher used to make kids stretch before they got active. But like the junior prom and bad school lunches, this wisdom is best left in the past.
The latest research has shown that doing static stretches (like toe-touches) before physical activity can actually weaken your muscles by making them relax. This, in turn, can make you more prone to injury during your workout [source: Men's Health].
So instead of doing hamstring and quad stretches before you run, a much better option is to warm up the body with a short series of dynamic, or moving, stretches that get your blood moving.
Consider some of the following stretches:
- Lunges: Place your hands on your hips while standing with feet hip-width apart and drop one knee at a time to the ground.
- Leg kicks: Kick one straightened leg forward and try to touch your toes with the opposite hand.
- Lying scorpion: Lie face down and alternate crossing one foot over the other leg and touching the ground with it.