To help avoid injuries, athletes - weekend warriors, professional athletes and everyone in between - should follow this general pattern before, during and after all workouts, games and competitions:
1. Warm-up: at least five minutes of low-intensity aerobic activity such as jogging to warm up the muscles and get the heart rate up.
2. Stretching: at least five minutes of stretching, focusing on one muscle at a time. Pay special attention to the muscles and joints you are most likely to injure (examples: shoulders for baseball players and wrestlers, knees and ankles for soccer and basketball players).
3. The workout, game or competition.
4. Cool-down: at least five minutes of low-intensity activity to lower the heart rate and cool off.
5. Stretching: again, at least five minutes of stretching to complete the workout.