Touching your toes doesn't have to be out of your reach. Improving flexibility of your hamstrings, low back and even your calves can help you accomplish this task. Perform these stretches one to two times each day until you reach your goal.
Seated Hamstring Stretch
If your hamstrings are tight, you feel pulling along the back of your thighs when you try to touch your toes. Stretch one leg at a time to start, then both legs together. Only stretch until you feel a gentle pulling sensation. Stretching to the point of pain can damage your muscles.
HOW TO DO IT: Sit on the ground with your right leg straight. Bend your left knee until the sole of your left foot is resting on your right inner thigh. Reach toward your toes and bend forward at your hips until you feel a pull along the back of your right thigh. Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds, then relax. Stretch three times and switch legs.
Standing Hamstring Stretch
Hamstring muscles can also be stretched in a standing position.
HOW TO DO IT: Prop your right heel up on a stairstep or similar-height sturdy object. Point your toes up toward the ceiling. Keeping your right knee straight, bend forward at your hips and reach your hands toward your foot. Stop when you feel a pulling sensation and hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Repeat three times on each leg.
Tightness in your back muscles can prevent you from touching your toes. If you feel pulling in your back when you attempt this movement, you likely have tight back muscles. The Cat yoga pose can improve flexibility of your back muscles.
HOW TO DO IT: Start on your hands and knees with your hands positioned under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Slowly bring your chin toward your chest and arch your back as far as you comfortably can. Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds, then relax. Repeat three times.
If you have trouble touching your toes when you're sitting with your legs out in front of you, calf muscle tightness could be a contributing factor. In a standing position you might feel pulling along the back of your lower legs if your calf muscles are tight.
HOW TO DO IT: Stand facing a wall. Place your palms against the wall at shoulder-height. Step your right foot back approximately two feet. Straighten your right knee fully and lean in toward the wall until you feel a pull along your calf. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat three times on each leg.
- Georgia State University: Flexibility
- American Council on Exercise: Seated Toe Touches
- Journal of Sports Medicine: Immediate Effects of Neurodynamic Sliding versus Muscle Stretching on Hamstring Flexibility in Subjects with Short Hamstring Syndrome
- The Physical Therapy Advisor: Hamstring Rehabilitation
- Back to Health PT: Participant Guide: A Study Comparing Yoga, Physical Therapy & Education for Chronic Low Back Pain