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Flexibility is an important element of overall fitness. Inflexibility is an unfortunate side effect of many aerobic activities and strength-building exercises, due to repeated muscle contractions over time. While stretching helps in preventing injuries, careful and gentle stretching helps your muscles by increasing the blood flow to the muscle being stretched. It is best not to stretch a cold muscle; do some warm-up activity first, even if it is just easy walking around the house. When you stretch, remember to breathe deeply and don't stretch to a degree that feels uncomfortable. If you feel discomfort, ease back from the stretch.