Can’t touch your toes? Or can you do it only when you bend your knees? Whether you notice that in your yoga class, at home or when stretching right after exercise, that’s definitely not something you want to worry about.
I know how frustrating it can be to not to be able to touch your toes when the rest of the world seems to have no problem with that. It can become a major obstacle to enjoy yoga.
Having stiff legs and back can absolutely ruin the experience. At the end of the day, being flexible also makes you feel lighter, leaner and stronger.
Anyway, today I’m going to explain the reasons why you’re so inflexible. And, give you some advice on how to become more flexible!
Why Am I So Inflexible?
There are a couple of factors that influence how flexible you are. One of them is the relative length of your arms and torso to your legs. Simply put, if you have longer arms and shorter legs, reaching your toes should not be a problem.
Another reason might not be so obvious. It’s the flexibility of your hamstrings and the range of motion in your hips. Usually, when you bend down hamstrings have to do the most work. Also, your hip joints need to bend forward.
The stiff back could influence your bend too. Generally speaking, having back problems doesn’t help.
How to Improve Your Flexibility?
While you cannot physically change the length of your arms or legs, you can improve your flexibility. Here are some of the tips.
1. Stretch for at Least 15 Seconds
You’ve probably heard that before and wondered what the actual reason behind those 15 seconds is. Let’s get into the science of it.
When stretching a muscle, the receptors within the muscle send a signal to your central nervous system. Thus, your muscle strengthens up and tries to resist the stretch. That’s where the pain or uncomfortable feeling is coming from.
However, if you hold the stretch for long enough, you can conquer the reflex. Thus, with time the pain will go away and you’ll find yourself bending even further than before. Definitely, will get better at yoga too.
2. Don’t Ignore the Pain
While slight pain or discomfort is absolutely fine when stretching, unbearable pain isn’t. That sort of pain usually indicates that you’re ripping your muscle.
Make sure you never go there. Injuries like that are painful and stop you from doing what you love: exercising or doing yoga.
3. Set a Long-Term Goal
If you find it difficult to keep yourself motivated when you’re struggling with flexibility, set goals. Anything negative can always turn out to be something positive.
Is there a specific yoga pose that you’d like to get comfortable with? Or perhaps you just want to bend properly? Then just keep on going until you get there.
Once you have a goal, it’s a good idea to keep track of your progress. Simply take pictures every month. It’ll give you a chance to see the improvements. Thus, it’ll help you to stay motivated and keep on going.
4. Be Patient
As lame as it sounds, that’s true. If you cannot touch your toes today, it most likely means that you won’t be able to touch them tomorrow. Be ok with the fact that you’ll need to work on it to get there.
5. Start Your Morning with a Little Bit of Stretching
A 20-minute yoga workout can offer a great start for the day. Both physically and mentally. Studies show that yoga poses to increase self-esteem and mental energy. Imagine beginning your day in a better mental state! It cannot get better than that.
Additionally, you’ll have a chance to open up those hamstrings and loosen inner hips. All of that without feeling like you’re only working to get that bend right.
6. Loosen Inner Hips with These Yoga Poses
Since tight hips are often a problem when it comes to touching your toes, here are a few poses to practice. Downward dog split, Runner’s lunge, Crescent lunge, Downward dog and Pigeon pose are some of these that you should most definitely try.
7. Open Up Hamstrings with These Yoga Poses
If you open up those hamstrings, you’re probably going to get a nicer bend. Some of the easy yoga poses that can do just that: Gate pose, Head-to-knee Forward pose, Locust pose, and an Intense side stretch.
8. Stretch That Back
If you have a stiff back, that can be the reason why you cannot touch your toes and just bend properly. Even if you’re flexible, you should still do some yoga poses specifically for your back.
Here is a beautiful infographic with all the necessary stretches for your back. Source of the infographic: detoxopedia.com
9. Move That Pelvis
The pelvis can possibly hinder you from reaching your toes and getting a healthy bend. The best thing you can do to help yourself is to practice pelvis tilts. Studies show that the pelvis tilts also help to improve posture.
10. Don’t Stress About It, It Doesn’t Help
Let’s be honest, you not being able to touch your toes isn’t the worst thing that can happen to a person. Don’t stress about it.
Understand that we’re all built differently and our bodies can reach different levels of flexibility. It’s important not to hurt yourself and stay in the moment. At the end of the day, yoga is all about the harmony between your body and mind.
If you can’t touch your toes, I hope these little tips will help you to get there. Be patient and remember that everything takes time. And it’s all about the journey and learning more about your body.
Always try to figure out what’s comfortable for you and what’s not. Set goals to track your own progress and stay proud of the results you’ve achieved.
If you have short hands, don’t stress about it. It’s all about the progress you make. You truly don’t need to compare yourself to others to be happy!