This is a pretty dull subject and one that nobody likes to think about, but warming up and stretching are important. Warming up is essential in order to remain injury-free and helps your body prepare itself for exercise both mentally and physically.
The key of warm-up is to unlocking tight muscles, which is the cause of injury.
Never statically stretch cold muscles, they're not as flexible when cold and you can easily overstretch them and injure them The first activity before even thinking about stretching is a, easy jog. You're right in running slowly for a bit first, another way to dynamically stretch them. If you are already injured, you have to stretch the cold muscles we recommend to walk around before warm ups in order to improve. The aim of warming up is to increase circulation around the body, improveing tissue elasticity, flexibility so extra clothing can be worn, to help increase the body temperature. Wait at least 3-5 minutes after you begin warming up and then continue to stretch.
The stretching should be a very very slow, fluid movement to gradually stretch the muscle. You should feel slight discomfort but never force a stretch beyond the point of mild tension. But if you don't, it’s possible the muscle has eased or you are doing the stretch incorrectly. Stretch for a minimum of 20-30 seconds per muscle and try to breath slowly and rhythmically through your nose and exhaling out through your mouth. Holding your breath while stretching can causes tension in your muscles, which in turn makes it very difficult to stretch. Depending on the sport you are going to play afterwards or exercise different stretching methods are going to be used. But, in general start with the head, and then move on to shoulders, arms, hips, and finally legs in order not to miss out any of the stretches for all your major muscle groups. Be consistent with your stretching routine.
Your flexibility changes day to day, so you may not be able to perform your stretching routine in the same manner with the same results at each session. From a volleyball spike to a rugby drop kick, flexibility of the bodys muscles and joints play an integral part in many athletic movements.
Cooling down after your workout is needed as much as warming up at the beginning. To slow down your body after a workout or exercise: 5-10 min of activities will go a long way in helping your body recover from a workout. It should include light aerobic activity and stretching. This will give you the best chance of avoiding injuries and may even help improve your performance.