Stretching is a natural action. People often stretch instinctively after long periods of inactivity. The most established and obvious benefit of stretching is to help improve flexibility and range of motion. As the body ages, muscles can become tighter and range of motion in the joints can be minimized. A lack of flexibility can cause movement to become slower and less fluid, making an individual more susceptible to muscle strains or other soft tissue injuries. An increase in flexibility is accompanied by improved balance and coordination.
Chronically tense and tight muscles can also contribute to poor posture. Stretching helps to ensure correct posture by lengthening tight muscles that pull areas of the body away from their intended position.
While it is still widely debated as to whether or not stretching can help prevent injury, it has been proven to help increase blood flow to the muscles. This increase in flow brings with it a greater nutrient supply to muscles, thereby reducing muscle soreness and helping to speed recovery from muscle and joint injuries. The less sore your muscles are, the less painful it will be to work those same muscles and to exercise in general.
There are two major types of stretching – dynamic and static stretching, Dynamic stretching involves stretching through movement eg leg and arm swings and is a good way to arm up. Static stretching is generally used post exercise to dull down the stimulation of the muscle, lengthen the tissues and mobilise the joints
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