Touch your toes in 4 easy steps
Do you want to touch your toes? Try this 3-minute flexibility plan. It’s designed to diagnose and loosen your tight spots with simple exercises that you can perform at the gym, at home, or even in the office.
1. Loosen Your Back
The Erector spinae are back muscles that run from the top of your spine down to your tailbone. Stiffness of this muscle group limits the degree to which you can bend your spine and torso.
The Exercise: The Cat Curl
How to do it: Get down on all fours. Your hands should be directly below your shoulders, and your knees directly below your hips. To create the back curl of a shrieking cat position, round your back by pushing it upward. Pause for one count, then push your lower back toward the floor to create the arched position. That’s one repetition. After 10 repetitions, try touching your toes. No luck? Move on to Step 2.
2. Loosen Your Hips
This exercise stretches your hip muscles—the glutes and hamstrings—while removing tension from your calves, the next link in the chain.
The Exercise: Hip Hinge with heels elevated
How to do it: Place your heels on a small weight plate or a 2×4. Maintaining the natural curve in your lower back, bend forward at your hips and reach for your toes. Pause for one count, and then raise your torso back to the start. Do 10 reps, step off the weight plate, and retest yourself. Still reaching in vain? Go to Step 3.
3. Loosen Your Calves
By tweaking the exercise in Step 2, you’ll move the tension from your hips to your Achilles tendons and gastrocnemii, or calf muscles. This stretch often produces the most dramatic results.
The Exercise: Hip Hinge with toes elevated
How to do it: Place the balls of your feet on the smal weight plate or a 2×4, and perform the same movement as in Step 2, again completing 10 repetitions. Then try touching your toes again. If you’re still not there, head to Step 4.
4. Loosen Your Soles
Most people don’t realize that they have muscles on the bottom of their feet. They’re called Toe Flexors, and they influence the flexibility of your entire lower body. Prepare to be amazed.
The Exercise: Tennis-ball foot roll
How to do it: While standing, roll the bottom of your bare foot over a tennis ball. Work your entire sole over the ball for 60 seconds, and repeat with your other foot.
Now try to touch your toes one last time. If you haven’t found success, go through the routine once more. Note that the steps in which you achieve the most improvement indicate your tightest muscles. These are the muscles you need to focus on.