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touch your toes

Not many of us consider stretching as exercising, but it is. Sure, it doesn’t give you rock hard abs, lose weight or sweat, but it is part of staying healthy. As an athlete, it is important to stretch before and after workouts. It has been shown to decrease injuries and increased range of motion and flexibility, among other benefits. Throughout the day, whether you’re sitting at a desk all day or on the couch, your muscles begin to tighten. If you have a pet, you’ve seen them stretch periodically throughout the day, after they nap or after they’ve been sitting for a long time. This is a natural act for animals so why aren’t humans incorporating it into their routine too? What happens to your muscles when you stretch them? In short, your muscles lengthen a certain percentage.

The tissue surrounding your muscles shorten due to the lack of movement. This can be from sitting down too long at work, on the couch or just not stretching your muscles regularly. When you sit at work all day at a computer or desk, your muscles and tendons begin to tighten leading them to adapt to this new position.  Past injuries can also lead to the lack of range of motion of a certain area of the body. Stretching is used as a way to improve the elasticity of a certain muscle or group of muscles. It increases muscle control, flexibility and range of motion. Try to touch your toes, if you’re having trouble there could be a few tight muscles in your body. Follow our guide below and see for yourself!

How to Touch Your Toes in 60 Minutes

Test:
  • Try to touch your toes, this will be your starting point, our goal is to get you touching your toes.

 

Area:
  • Mid-back
Equipment:
  • Foam roller
What to do:
  • Roll from side to side on your mid back
  • This affects your sympathetic system (runs parallel to the spine), as well as your thoracic spine muscle. This limits how far forward you can bend.
  • Take your foam roller and gently move from side to side, knees bent, pivoting off your feet with your arms/hands at your sides. This is not about how far you are going, but trying to manipulate the muscles by your spine.
  • It will help loosen up your mid-back. Generally, you will see about 1 to 2 inches of improvement. Everyone is different and may need more or less time than someone else.
  • Get off the foam roller slowly, some people will be light-headed. Try to touch your toes again.

Area:
  • Quadratus Lumborum (Mid-back)
    • This area runs from the bottom of your ribs to the top of your pelvis.
Equipment:

Baseball or lacrosse ball

What to do:
  • Working on your side, lay in beach pose position.
  • One leg is bent while the other leg is straight.
  • Rock from side to side. Try to find the most tender spot, that is usually where your body is most tight.
  • Switch sides and repeat this.
  • Some people may need a couple minutes and others do not need to work this is area all.
  • Muscles can influence the range of motion, tight muscles around your low back, neck, and limb stops you from bending forward.
  • Take a deep breath and try to touch your toes.

 

Area:
  • Calves (Soleus and Gastrocnemius)
Equipment:
  • Baseball or lacrosse ball
What to do:
  • Lift your hips up and get enough pressure on the upper outside portion. This is the most common trigger point of the muscle.
  • Relax your foot as much as possible.
  • Loosen this area and switch to the other calf.
  • Take a deep breath and bend forward to reach your toes.

Area:
  • Plantar Fascia (bottom of feet).
    • There are a lot of nerves, veins, and arteries in this area.
Equipment:
  • Baseball or lacrosse ball
What to do:
  • With that same baseball or lacrosse ball, put it under your foot and bend your foot inwards.
  • Roll back and forth and feel for that tender spot.
  • When you feel ready, switch to the other foot.
  • Try to touch your toes again.

In general, we’ve been talking about muscles influencing your mobility, but there are others. Here are the factors that influence mobility.

  • Active structures: muscle with proper extensibility is generally associated with an optimal usable range of motion.
  • Passive structures: ligaments can limit the range of motion due to their role as joint stabilizers. On the other hand, ligaments that are too loose can be problematic causing joint instability.
  • Neural structures: sometimes there will be a lack of usable range of motion despite adequate extensibility of the muscles and ligaments. In this case, the nervous system can send sensation limiting the range of motion.
  • Other factors: elasticity of skin, adhesion between the muscle fibers and adhesions between the muscle and fascia, or even psychological factors.

Conclusion:

Different structures can influence toe touch mobility. If you can touch your toes with ease could mean you have hypermobility of the spine. Think of mobility as an ‘n’ curve. The bottom of the ‘n’ means you either lack the mobility or you have hypermobility. The healthy area would be the curve of the ‘n’, you want to be somewhere in the middle. If you have too much mobility and not the strength to control it then you are increasing your risk of injury. Mobility is not the only factor to influence injury, but it is a known factor that can be worked on. Three take-home points: 1. If you can touch your toes it does not equate to how healthy you are or how healthy your back is. 2. You can be too mobile. 3. The changes between when you first tried to touch your toes to after doing all these stretches are short term.

If you’re having trouble with mobility, let us know. We can get you up and feeling good in no time!

 

If you are in the Bay Area and want to work with us, schedule a Free Success Session today: