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.


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