…the answer is… both!
If you engage in any regular physical activity, I’m sure you’re aware of the importance of making sure the desired muscle group is warmed up and ready to go.
As well as reducing the risk of sustaining an injury during your activity, stretching allows for adequate blood flow and circulation to reach these areas - another requirement for continued energy and motivation to fuel your movement.
As the body is a series of interconnected muscles, cells, organs, and ligaments, the more you become body-aware, the more comfortable you will find it to see every movement as a small part of the whole body moving as one.
Stretching lengthens the muscles after periods of intense aerobic exercise like running or walking, causing them to tighten and shorten.
A great stretch to practice for lengthening out the hamstrings and spine is a simple forward fold:
1 - Sit with your legs extended in front of you with the toes flexed back towards you. 2 - Breath in and extend your arms overhead, keeping the shoulders relaxed. 3 - With the spine straight, start to hinge forward at the hips over the extended legs as you exhale (if you start to round your upper back, then you’ve gone too far). 4 - Hold with the chin tucked and head relaxed for a few deep breaths.
“If you stretch correctly and regularly, you will find that every movement you make becomes easier” - Bob Anderson