Incorporating Stretching Into Your Everyday Routine: Q&A With Bobby Flay's Stretching Coach

We caught up with Bobby's trainer, Harold L. Raschke-Robinson, to talk about the importance of stretching.

Bobby Flay manages to stay fit and healthy even with a busy lifestyle as a chef, and he's eager to share his healthy eating and fitness plan with fans in a seven-part Web series, Bobby Flay Fit.

In Episode 2 of Bobby Flay Fit, Harold L. Raschke-Robinson, Bobby's stretching coach, helps Bobby stretch, which is an important part of any exercise routine.

Healthy Eats caught up with Harold to talk more about stretching and how it can help you re-energize and cope with stress, whether you're an athlete or not.

Why should we stretch?

Harold L. Raschke-Robinson: It's the best way to get the stress out of our muscles. It doesn’t matter if you’ve worked out or not. Stretching is beneficial at all times of the day — it puts energy back into our soul.

How many times a day should we stretch? What's the goal of stretching?

HLRR: I'd recommend stretching in the morning, at night, and during the course of the day when you feel it's necessary, for about 15 minutes each time if you can. It's great to start the day with a 15-minute stretch. It energizes the body and mind. After a day of work the body has accumulated a lot of stress. Stretching at night will help you sleep better.

The goals of stretching are to relieve pain, prevent injury, promote faster recovery and increase blood circulation. Any stretching routine is key to delaying the onset of muscle soreness.

Is it better to stretch before or after exercising, or even both?

HLRR: That’s based on what type of workout you will be doing. I recommend stretching before an intense workout to wake up the muscles for what is to come. Stretching after any type of workout is a must to reduce the buildup of lactic acid, which causes muscle soreness.

What's the easiest, simplest stretch for a beginner to do?

HLRR: The first stretch that I recommend is a standing quad stretch. Face a wall placing your right hand on the wall for support, then bend your left knee bringing your heel to your butt, then reach back with your left hand and grab the ankle. Keep your body upright with your shoulders squared. You will feel the stretch in your left front quad muscle. Breath and count slowly to 15 seconds, then switch legs. Do three repetitions per leg.

The second stretch that I would recommend is called a seated leg extension stretch. Sit up tall in a chair. While the left foot stays on the ground, lift and extend the right leg until it is parallel with the ground. Hold the leg up 15 to 30 seconds, then release and repeat three times for each leg.

What's the best stretch to relieve stress at work?

HLRR: While sitting in a chair you want to reach for the sky as far up as you can. This is going to stretch your chest, back and arm muscles, which hold most of the stress and tension from doing office work. I would say to do this exercise two to three times a day, especially when you have been sitting for a long time working at your desk.

Besides stretching, what's another way to recover after a workout?

HLRR: To recover your tired muscles, it helps to schedule a sports massage or to sit in a hot-water bath. This helps to increase blood circulation, which prevents the buildup of lactic acid.

The stretches that you did with Bobby seemed very specialized. What were they?

HLRR: Those were active isolation stretches. They are best when done with a trainer or through a group exercise class where someone can lead you through the stretches.

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