Stretching is a type of physical movement in which certain muscles or tendons are intentionally flexed or stretched out so as to improve one’s range of motion, flexibility, and physical comfort. Stretching is an activity observed both in humans and many other animals, as it is often instinctive following long periods of physical inactivity, such as sleep, or when exiting confined spaces. In the case of humans, stretching is a critical part of physical fitness, since it helps to reduce risk of injury prior to and following strenuous activity and/or sport. There are many types of stretches one might do depending on the context, but the four major classifications of stretches are static, dynamic, active, and passive.
Stretching allows for the focus to be on your body, which, as a result, clears your mind. Further, it releases endorphins putting you in a better mood. Stretching also improves circulation, simulates relaxation, reverses muscle contraction, and decreases muscle compensation and pain.
Static stretching is a stretch that is held for a period of time, usually between 10 to 30 seconds. The stretch is challenging yet comfortable. This type of stretching is a common form of stretching in general fitness, and it is effective in improving overall flexibility.
In dynamic stretching, the joints and muscles go through a full range of motion; these types of stretches are used as a form of a warm-up before exercising. Dynamic stretching is an active movement, and they are functional movements that mimic the activity about to be performed.