Are you properly warming up for your workout? Often we exercise without preparing our muscles for movement. A few arm circles and toe touches aren't enough to prime your body.

Mobility exercises protect the muscles and bones by increasing circulation and range of motion at the joints. Keep your body strong and stable by practicing these four mobility moves before every workout:

Cat-cow

  • Begin on your hands and knees. Align your shoulders above wrists and hips above knees.
  • Take a deep breath in as you arch your spine into a "C" shape. Tuck your chin in toward your chest and tailbone under.
  • Hold for two counts. On the exhale, drop your spine into a "U" shape and lift your chin off your chest, directing your gaze upward. Continue this sequence for 20 repetitions.

Tabletop twists

  • Remain in the tabletop position, keeping your back flat and neck in line with your spine.
  • Slowly elevate your right arm and rotate it up toward the sky, opening your chest. You should feel a deep stretch in your chest, back, and inner arm. Hold for two or three counts, then return your hand to the floor and repeat on the opposite side. Continue alternating arms for 20 total repetitions.

Hip hinge walkout

  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Bend at the hips, with a slight bend at the knees, and gently walk your hands out on the floor until you're in a plank position. Hold for two to three counts.
  • Walk your hands back toward your feet, rolling your spine up one vertebrae at a time, and your shoulders back until you're in the starting position. Repeat 10 times.

Knee hugs

  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and arms at your sides.
  • Bring your right leg up toward your chest and clasp your hands around your knee, holding the stretch for two or three counts. Avoid hunching forward. Repeat on the left leg. Continue alternating legs for 20 total repetitions.

Muscles and joints perform best when they get a warm welcome.

Ashley B. Greenblatt is a certified personal trainer and wellness coach. To learn more, visit ashleyblakefitness.com.