Want to learn how to get close to touching you toes?
Me: “Okay Johnny, let’s see you touch your toes!”
Johnny: “That’s not going to happen! I was never able to touch my toes!”
How many times have we heard this?
It is not the be-all-end-all to touch your toes but it does give us the indication that your joints are working synchronously.
Toe touching is very do-able but there are some guidelines to follow.
Do you remember the old sit-and-reach test to determine if you have tight hamstrings or not? Well, it isn’t what it’s all cracked up to be but people are still calling it a hamstring flexibility test!
It should actually be a backside flexibility test.
Think about it:
When your feet are flat on the box and legs straight, you lean forward. By reaching forward, we often feel the tightness in the calves and hamstrings. However, what if your shoulder blades had little travel on your rib cage? What if your ribs have very little mobility? What if your upper, lower back and/or pelvis had some pain or flexibility issues? You would surely not be able to reach those toes.
So now, is it truly hamstring tightness that you can’t touch your toes? Or is it back-side tightness?
You know what else?
It can also be a stability issue! If you increase the “awareness” of your trunk muscles, your legs will get better.
Try this at home:
- Lie on your back and with both legs flat and straight, try lifting one leg straight up and pay attention to where it stops. If you can get past 75degrees with a fully flexed foot, a fully extended knee and the other leg on the floor does not budge, then you don’t need to go on.
- Place a thick elastic attached to a post behind you (you can also grab some bungee cords or a non-elastic strap).
- Apply pressure to bring the arms towards the hips but not touching the floor
- Keep the bottom leg straight and toes up, slowly lift one leg straight in the sky. It will actually go higher than before!
- Repeat 15x per side daily and watch your mobility AND your stability improve
Why did this happen?
aslr tip <— click here to see what we mean!
When you lift your leg off the floor, you are lifting via your front thigh muscles with concomitant trunk/pelvis activation.
When you feel your hamstrings tighten up, it’s because they are trying to “yell” at you to let you know that something is not right with that leg lift!
But what do we usually do? We shoot the messenger! We stretch and roll the hamstrings in a valiant attempt to lengthen them but the actual leg lift is still aberrant.
However, if you teach your abs and leg to work together, the leg goes higher and consequently the hamstrings do not hold you back as much.