Stretching is the most important part of any workout or physical activity, as it prepares the muscles for the strain that is to come. It also helps the muscles stay limber after a workout, and practicing it regularly can help prevent injuries and promote flexibility and strength. When the muscles are stretched, they are extended to a resistance point and held there momentarily. This helps the muscles, but it also helps joints by keeping them moving freely.
The most common form is resistance stretching, in which the muscle is engaged while simultaneously lengthening. An example is a calf stretch, in which the user will lift the ball of the foot onto a raised platform and drop the heel. The muscle is engaged by pushing against the raised block or platform, but it is also elongating as the user leans forward and the calf muscles stretch. Most stretching done before and after exercise is this type, as it is one of the simplest and safest ways to stretch without over-straining muscles.
In the past, static stretches were the most commonly practiced before sporting events or physical activity. This meant that the user would stretch the body while it was at rest, and the muscles were simply elongated. While static stretches are still commonly used today both before and after sporting events, dynamic stretching is far more common because it is more effective at preparing the muscles for use and stimulating oxygen flow to muscles. Dynamic stretches are done by actively using the muscles in a gentle, swinging motion. A common example of such a stretch is the leg swing, in which the user will gently swing one leg back and forth, extending the leg further each time to stretch a variety of muscles in the limb and lower back. Such stretches should be done relatively slowly and without a jerky motion to prevent injury.
Doing stretches is a vital part of any workout and should be an important part of any normal day. It promotes a healthy range of motion and prevents muscles from tearing or straining under normal conditions, as well as in the event of a sudden movement. It promotes oxygen movement through the body as well as blood flow, and it can help the body feel healthier and stronger with minimal effort.