The Markstein number characterizes the effect that flame stretch has on the burning velocity. Different expressions for this number are deduced from integral analysis. According to a phenomenological law, the Markstein number can be separated into a part for the curvature of the flame and a part for the straining of the flow. This separation is analysed here. It appears that the Markstein number for curvature and the combined one for both curvature and strain are unique. It is, however, not possible to introduce a separate and unique Markstein number for the flow straining that can be used to describe its influence in different combustion situations. The theoretical and numerical analysis is applied to flat steady counterflow flames as well as to steady, imploding and expanding spherical flames.