If you can’t touch your toes, does that means your hamstrings are too tight and they need stretching? No. That tight feeling doesn’t necessarily mean you need to stretch. Always look deeper before stretching anything as there are many different reasons why you may not be able to touch your toes.
In your toe touching quest, hamstrings are only one of the culprits but there are some key accomplices including your hip flexors, your mid- and lower back, and even your lats, that need to get in line in order for this movement to occur seamlessly.
In a perfect forward fold, your upper body should bend toward your legs like closing a flip phone (remember those?). Both the upper and lower body remains straight, and the hinge comes from your hips. Your back and lat muscles affect your ability to successfully bend and need to be working optimally.
Because we are sitting far more than we are supposed to sit, our hip flexors get used to being shortened. The hip flexors attach to the mid- and lower back, the SI joint, and the hip joints. Because of this, when they are chronically shortened they are pulling your pelvis and back out of optimal position, tipping your pelvis forward. This means you can’t move the way you are meant to move. When I watch people try to get that extra inch or two, all of the motion comes from the upper and mid back rather than the hips.
Imagine that your hamstrings are rubber bands. They should lengthen and return to the original size. But if you are constantly pulling the rubber band to its limits (as is what happens to your hamstrings when the pelvis and lower back are pulled forward), the rubber band will start to rip and fray. This is what you feel when you stretch and stretch — it feels like things are ripping and burning, which is basically the case. The soft tissue is ripping because your fascia and muscles are being pulled even further into end range.
Those tight hip flexors will also shut down your abdominals and glutes, which you need to help bend you forward lower yourself when touching your toes. With those muscles shut down, the hamstrings have to work extra hard to not only move your body against gravity but also fight the restrictions of the hip flexors.
Are you struggling to touch your toes?
Then call our clinic on 03 9596 9930 and book an assessment with a Myotherapist. We’ll help you open up your hip flexors, create better mobility in your SI, and build strength and balance in your inner thighs and abs. These exercises work quickly and you only need to do these a couple of times a week to create the openness in your body and redirect the motion so that you can at last triumph in the toe touch!
MYOTHERAPIST BRIGHTON – BRIGHTON WELLNESS GROUP