Easy methods to Contact Your Toes (The four Greatest Stretches to Enhance Flexibility)
It's time to learn how to touch your toes!
What makes me so confident that you can reach out to your little pigs?
Because we teach even the most "inflexible" people how to touch their toes in our 1-on-1 online coaching program, and we're going to share all of our secrets with you below.
Would you like to be more flexible? A nerd fitness coach can create a plan to accomplish this!
Our guide covers the following: How to touch your toes:
It's time to get pliable like Gumby!
Before we get started, I don't want to mention that in our new fun habit building app we have a mobility adventure (that will help you touch your toes). If you want, you can have a try today!
Nerd Fitness Journey helps you exercise more, eat healthier, and (literally) improve your life.
You can test the Mobility Challenge here:
The benefits of being able to touch your toes
If you want to increase your flexibility, you need to stretch.(1) How to make your muscles elastic and strong.
But why bother? What's so special about being able to touch your toes?
Here are some of the benefits of stretching:
- Increase the range of motion. If you can move a joint over its entire range of motion, you have more freedom of movement. Navigating the physical world safely is a sign of a sane nerd, which is why flexibility shouldn't be overlooked. One of the best ways to get more flexible is by stretching. (2)
- Improve posture. When you don't want to hang around so much anymore, stretching regularly can help. (3) Stretching improves muscle imbalance, which in turn can improve your posture.
- Relieve back pain. If you suffer from it Back painIt might be worth starting a stretching routine. (4) The muscles in your back may be tight, restricting your range of motion and causing pain. Stretching can help loosen up the area and strengthen the muscle. This can help prevent future injuries.
Stretching and the flexibility it comes with shouldn't be overlooked when setting up a workout routine.
While there are many indicators of good flexibility, one of the most popular is undoubtedly be able to touch your toes.
After all, it was so important that the president had all American school children take the sit and reach test to see if they could grab their feet. (5)
Touching your toes then might have been a struggle for you. It could be a fight for you now.
Why can't I touch my toes?
If you can't touch your toes, it is most likely due to one of four main reasons:
1) Shortened / tight rear chain muscles. While most people think that the inability to touch our toes only means that your hamstrings are inflexible, in reality our entire system (including the lower back) can play a huge role too! As Mark Rippetoe explains in this video about the deadlift in Romania, what you might think is a lower back problem is also an Achilles tendon problem (and vice versa):
You see, the back chain is an interconnected set of muscles that includes our back muscles, erector spinae (muscles along our spine), lower back muscles, buttocks, and hamstrings:
Weak mobility points in one place in the system can become debilitating (and often easy to spot) when we perform compound movements like the deadlift.
If you're someone who sits at a desk all day and has difficulty touching your toes, chances are you're not going to strengthen or lengthen those muscles because the chair does all the work for you.
2) You have relatively long legs compared to your torso and arms. People with long legs and short torsos have a greater challenge than people with short legs and long torsos and arms.
But fear not, you too can improve and touch your toes.
3) You have too much body fat. If you are overweight and happen to have a big stomach, this can certainly make touching your toes more difficult. Since you already know that diet is 90% of the fight in losing weight, focus on diet to start losing weight (Here are the 5 weight loss rules to get you started.. This can be a factor that makes it easier to touch your toes.
4) You're not warmed up yet. If you've just woken up or been in a car all day, you are familiar with the rigidity that makes you feel like a steel beam. Your muscles act like rubber bands; The more they are used, the more they warm up and the further they can stretch. For this reason, we encourage people to do a mobility warm-up before training!
Let's come up with a plan to finally touch our toes!
Determine your initial flexibility (we all start somewhere)
Before we can implement a strategy to develop more flexibility to touch your toes, we need to know your starting point.
As Peter Drucker said, "What is measured is managed." Or in this case what is measured becomes more flexible!
The following is from our Free 5 Day Flexibility Series that you can sign up for today!
THE "CAN YOU TOUCH YOUR TOES?" EXAM
- Stand up straight with your legs hip-width apart. You want your legs to be straight, but you also don't aggressively lock out your knees (this feels like a "microbend" to many people).
- Start by bending over with your quads (in front of your legs) and leaning forward towards the floor.
- Let your body rest naturally, like you were a rag doll. Keeping your hands relatively close together, straighten your fingers, and slowly begin to stretch yourself towards the floor.
- Do this 2-3 times to warm up. Try to keep your legs straight by flexing or activating your quads. Keep your legs straight without lock your knees.
- Except for the microbend, don't bend your knees to be closer to the ground! I am watching you. When videotaping yourself to track your progress, be aware that depending on your body (and hamstrings), your legs may not look 100% straight.
When you're ready, reach for the floor and hold for a few seconds. Measure the distance in one of the following ways:
- If you don't touch the floor, have a friend measure the distance between your fingertip and the floor. If you don't have a friend with you, put your hands on your legs and note where your fingertips end.
- When you can touch the floor, you'll want to flatten your hands as much as possible and record the distance from the top of your head to the floor. If you can keep stretching, the top of your head will come closer and closer to the floor.
- If this seems easy, try hugging your calves and pulling your head toward your body.
Write down your measurement in a document or on a sheet of paper (if part of the flexibility challenge we have a document you can print out) and / or save the photo / video to show how far down you are.
The 4 best stretches to touch your toes (improve your flexibility)
There are two key factors that will determine whether or not you will be able to touch your toes as you practice over the next few weeks:
- Actively stretch your muscles ONLY beyond the point of comfort. As with weight training, by adding 1 rep or a few pounds to an exercise, we want to stretch just past the point where we last stretched so our muscles need to stretch.
- Consistent practice and effort! You cannot improve your flexibility by stretching for 5 minutes once a month. It is better if you stretch 10 times a month for 30 seconds.
Correctly. Studies have confirmed that an active focus on touching the toes for 30 seconds three times a week is enough to elongate the hamstrings in 4 weeks. (6)
I'm sure an inappropriate joke must be made here for about 30 seconds, but I'm better than that (I think).
In less time than it takes to update your Facebook status, you could be touching your toes and making Gumby proud.
And I know that you have time
HOW TO TOUCH YOUR TOES (CONSISTENT FLEXIBILITY PRACTICE):
I only ask for 2 minutes. 2 minutes! You can even spread these movements out over your day – I like to do them after I've worked out. After a long day at your desk, after driving, or waking up are all good times to work on flexibility!
For each of the following movements, make sure that you are breathing slowly and steadily.
You can follow all of the moves below that came from our really fun online Nerd Fitness Yoga course (part of NF Prime). It is essentially yoga for people who don't do yoga.
THE BEST 4 ROUTES TO TOUCH YOUR TOES:
- Standing toe touch – 30 seconds
- Cat / camel – 30 seconds (switch position every 5 seconds)
- Star stretch – 30 seconds (as many slow reps as possible)
- Moon the sky – 30 seconds (as many slow repetitions as possible)
1) Standing toe touch: Bend / activate the front of your legs, keeping them straight, and bend past the point of discomfort at the waist. Hold this position for 30 seconds. Repeat this process every other day and hold for 30 seconds.
2) We can loosen a tight lower back by moving back and forth for 30 seconds every few seconds, doing a "cat" and then a "cow":
3) You can also do something called a star stretch to stretch your legs! Stand with your legs wide apart and arms outstretched (hence the term star!), Then reach down with one hand to your opposite leg. Hold down the button for five seconds to begin and repeat with the other leg.
4) Here is another of my favorite moves that improve my flexibility and mobility: the "Moon the Sky" stretch!
This is a great stretch to mix in with your pre-workout warm-up to get your legs, butt, and back ready for work:
- Squat down and put your hands under your feet
- Slowly move your butt up with your hands under your feet.
- Lift your bum and try to straighten your legs
- Go a little higher each time until you can fully straighten your legs!
For any of the above steps, you can check your form by recording a video of yourself and matching it with the videos and gifs here. If they look closely, you are fine!
If you want to have your routes checked by an expert, our trainers can do just that in our chic app!
Let a nerd fitness coach help you touch your toes! Find out more here.
How to become more flexible (next steps)
It is now time to exercise to touch your toes!
Test your toe touch skills before and after the above 2 minute exercise. I bet you will notice a difference right away – see what you can achieve in a couple of weeks!
The cool thing about flexibility is that any combination of the sections above will help you improve your flexibility as long as you work on it a little each day.
I do mobility work:
- When I wake up
- After I've trained
- All through my day (when I'm working at my desk)
- At the end of my day for a minute or two before bed
All in all, it takes less than 5 minutes, but enough to show me some results!
If you follow our guide above, you will be well on your way to increasing your flexibility and touching your toe wosies.
You just have to start!
Do you want some help to get started? Push a little more out the door?
We designed three perfect next steps to increase your flexibility!
# 1) Work with a professional Yoda! If you want to be sure that you are following a program that is tailored to your busy life, situation, and goals, check out our popular 1-on-1 coaching program.
Many of our customers have “increased flexibility” as one of their fitness goals and they console themselves with the knowledge of a is a certified NF instructor lead them there.
Our coaching program changes lives! Find out more here.
# 2) Do you work out at home and need a plan to follow? Check out Nerd Fitness Journey!
Our fun habit-building app will help you exercise more, eat healthier, and (literally) improve your life.
Try your free trial here:
# 3) Join our amazing free community, the Nerd Fitness Rebellion! Not only is it free to sign up, but we also provide plenty of free goodies for you when you sign up:
Get your Nerd Fitness Starter Kit
- The 15 mistakes you don't want to make.
- Complete Guide to Most Effective Diets and Why They Work.
- Complete and track your first workout today, no gym required.
That should just do it for our guide So touch your toes.
Now it's your turn:
Can you touch your toes?
Does trying to "sit and reach" bring back horror from elementary school?
Any other mobility training tips or tricks?
Let us know in the comments!
PS: Make sure you check out the rest of ours Mobility training Series:
GIF credit: Banana, Danny Devito, gummy bears, Patrick.
Credit: Toe touch, back chain, roar, yoga sunset, the adventures of Gumby and R2D2, Stormtroopers and Gumby