If you have been told that being able to touch your toes is a good barometer of your overall fitness and flexibility, then you need to watch this video. Here I’m going to show you why you not only want to stop trying to touch your toes and instead do the move I show you as an alternative. All you have to do is look at the implications this position has for hiding postural flows and imbalances and you will see quickly why it’s something you will not want to keep doing to help you feel more flexible.
It starts by letting you test yourself. Can you actually touch your toes? Many people will be able to, but many more will not. Even if you cannot, I can make it much easier for you if I tell you to be sure you roll your butt underneath you before you attempt to bend down. This will place a lot less of a stretch on the hamstrings making it easier for you to fold.
The issue with this modification is that many people do this naturally anyway in order to cheat their way to their toes. This really isn’t giving them any valuable information regarding their own flexibility and the health of their posture. In fact, it’s doing them a disservice by convincing them that they are more flexible than they really are and therefore allowing them to shrug off doing anything about it.
When you slump forward to touch your toes you are actually initiating much of the range of motion through the thoracic spine. You are flexing forward into severe kyphosis in order to achieve the hands to the toes position. This is only reinforcing a bad tendency for having slumped posture. It gets worse from there however. The low back is forced to round and the pelvis is thrown into a posterior tilt. This is the exact position that someone who is aged and has lost all semblance of good posture will adopt.
Even more, the shoulders themselves slump forward and are lacking any kind of scapular stability. All of these issues combined are a recipe for disaster when it comes to proper posture and the insinuation that being able to get into this position of hands to toes is in some way a good thing is misleading to say the least. Instead of being obsessed with whether you can still touch your toes I’m asking you to try something else.
Stand about 3 foot lengths away from the wall and reach forward with one leg until you can prop your toes up against the wall. Immediately, you should feel a stretch on the calf of that leg and likely already the hamstring. From here, reach your hands up against the wall slightly over shoulder height and place your palms flat against the wall.
Simultaneously walk your hands up the wall while leaning your chest in. The goal should be to ultimately touch your chest against the wall without any care towards whether you are bending down or forward. You are simply supposed to reach your chest forward. If you cannot get there, don’t worry, this is normal. You will however want to work towards getting your chest closer over time. Hold this position for 30 seconds to a minute and don’t forget to repeat on the other leg to balance out both hamstrings.
The benefit to this position rather than the slumped forward posture that bending over to touch your toes places you in is the fact that you can maintain thoracic extension while at the same time keeping your pelvis in an anterior tilt. This position of the pelvis is going to place a higher demand on the hamstrings, however in doing so, will reveal any tightnesses in them that you will want to address rather than hiding them by simply allowing your pelvis to roll back during the stretch.
This is just one example where old school methods of measuring and working on your flexibility are not helping you. If you really want to get to the bottom of your postural flaws and figure out ways to improve your forward head, rounded shoulders and slumped posture be sure to subscribe to our channel here on youtube at the link below and turn on your notifications so you never miss a new video when it’s published.
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