Stroll into a gym and you’re much more likely to hear “How much do you bench?” rather than “How’s your range of motion?” Over the years and after much trial and error, I learned the easiest method to touch our toes over the course of time. I’m pleased to teach you today.
When I began weight training as a teenager, flexibility never entered my mind; I just wanted to be bigger and stronger. As such, I never did anything to improve it…for years. At some point, little boys have to grow up. I did (sort of) and found the value in being able to touch my toes. I sensed the importance of freer movement. From humankinetics.com:
Flexibility tends to deteriorate with age, often due to a sedentary lifestyle. Without adequate flexibility, daily activities become more difficult to perform. Over time, we create body movements and posture habits that can lead to reduced mobility of joints and compromised body positions. Staying active and stretching regularly help prevent this loss of mobility, which ensures independence as we age. Being flexible significantly reduces the chance of experiencing occasional and chronic back pain.
The mainstream path to improved muscle malleability is archaic. Remember middle school PE? We used to stand on the scorching blacktop in lines and perform static stretching while Coach Rogers barked orders at us. How did he get his whistle so shiny and where did he get those shorts made of the baseball pants material? I digress.
I wrote about the value of movement while stretching over the traditional alternative here. Take a peek and rejoin us. That remains true for warming up before an athletic activity, but for gaining or maintaining flexibility, stretches can be useful.
I have good news. I’m not presenting you with a whole routine. I vow to help in just one minute every day. Don’t consider this an entire meal, but take it as your essential glass of water.
Start by standing nice and tall, with your chin and chest up. Spread your feet slightly more than shoulder width apart. Take a deep breath and reach your arms above your head as high as you can get them. Keeping your legs straight, bring your hands and arms down, bend at the waist, and push your hips and ass back toward the wall You’re basically trying to touch your toes (or just in front of them) here. Without stopping, repeat this action five times.
Most people think of the touch-your-toes stretch as exclusively targeting the hamstrings. Although the back of the legs are involved, this couldn’t be more inaccurate. As you bend over, the muscles in your upper and lower back, neck, lats, and shoulders all receive a good tug. By reaching to the sky as part of this move, you loosen your entire body and remain relaxed as you bend at the waist. You’ll find your range of motion increasing with each repetition.
Your first foray may be awkward, and it’s unreasonable to expect that you’ll have your form down pat immediately. Appreciate the journey, and challenge yourself be consistent. You’ll notice a monumental change over the days and weeks to come as a result.
I think I’ll make a VHS tape and sell it at Blockbuster Video. I’ll call it One Minute Flexibility, and I’ll make a fortune. I’ll use my riches to buy some old-school PE shorts.
See you later, Gumby.