Stretching isn't just something to do when exercising; it should be a daily activity. There are several benefits to stretching and they include: maintaining and improving flexibility, preventing injuries in repetitive motion activities, preventing soreness, improving performance, stimulating blood flow and it is also mentally relaxing and centering.
Some people aren't sure when they should do stretching but consensus favors stretching in conjunction with warmed up muscles. Before you do any type of stretching, you should do a light, warm up activity for about ten minutes. This activity increases blood flow, reduces stiffness and makes muscles more supple. You will also be less likely to injure yourself and it makes the stretches more effective. Post exercise stretching is also important because it brings the muscles back to their optimum resting length. A proper workout should consist of this: warm up, stretch, exercise, stretch, and cool down.
A lot of people think that if it doesn't hurt when they are stretching then you are not stretching properly, but that is not true. If it hurts when you are stretching then you should stop, and there is a reason for this. If it is hurting you while you stretch then the body's response is to tighten up to prevent more lengthening and it could possibly injure you. What you want to do is take the muscle to its soft tissue barrier, which is the point at which you begin to feel some resistance. This will give you the best results without injury.