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Why you can’t touch your toes

Peta Serras

by Peta Serras

Touching your toes is a little more complicated than just stretching the backs of the legs. There’s a few things that could be setting you back.

Looking at an exercise like a standing roll down (imagine standing tall and then rolling forward to touch your toes), a number of things are on stretch including the neck, back, glutes, hamstrings and calves.


“Becoming flexible isn’t as easy as mindlessly holding a stretch either. Throwing your leg up on a park bench at the end of a workout and holding for 30 seconds won’t give you the results you desire.”


Here are 6 reasons why you can’t touch your toes and simple steps to solve them:

1. You’re dehydrated

Hydration is so important if you want to become and stay flexible. Our nerves are involved in flexibility and they glide smoothly when we’re properly hydrated. I tell my clients that imagine your pulling a piece of rope through a big plastic pipe. That’s your nerves gliding easily when you’re hydrated. Now fill that with rocks and pull the rope through. That’s when you haven’t had enough water.

2. Your calves are tight

Stand on the edge of a step and relax the heels down. Don’t bounce! You can have a slight bend through the knees to target a different area of the calf. Always tight? Book in for a remedial massage and get someone to release them for you. Ask them to show you massage techniques you can practice at home.

3. You need to devote time to myofascial releases

Myofascial release is the sister to stretching. They’re related but a little bit different. Our muscles have a glad wrap like covering that can get tight. I explain to my clients that when we feel like we need a massage, this is when our fascia needs attention.

Use a spikey ball or foam roller? This is a myofascial release. I recommend rolling you feet with a tennis or ball once a day. Fascia is interconnected through our whole body. It’s shown that rolling the feet can even impact the range of motion in our shoulder joint.

4. Your glutes are tight

So many people forget about the upper part of the glutes that often get tight. People describe this as lower back pain. But quite often it’s the upper part of our glutes.

Sometimes difficult to stretch, I find it easiest to use a roller. Even laying on our back and placing a foam roller across our sacrum (boney area of small of the back) can be enough to release the area. For a more intense release take the legs to table top and slowly take the legs from side to side which will release that area nicely.

5. You need to work on spinal mobility and back flexibility

If our back is so tight we have problems flexing our spine forward then it’s a lot of work for the hamstrings. Standing roll downs against the wall are one of my favourite ways to stretch the spine out and the muscles of the back.

Begin with your back against the wall, feet away from the wall and hip distanced apart. Slowly begin to roll forward peeling one vertebrae at a time off the wall. Ensure we don’t come off in one big section. I recommend 6 times morning and night.

6. You’re stretching incorrectly

I said above there’s an art to stretching correcting and getting flexible. If we are stretching cold, pushing too far into a stretch, bouncing or even being mindless with our routine, we won’t get the results we desire.

Want someone to guide you? Download my 2 part stretching series.

Peta Serras

Editor of Professional Babe, Peta has a penchant for pretty things, Tom Hardy and ginger kittens. You can find her sipping a long black, creating killer content or making sure her winged eyeliner is even. Peta is a writer, model & Pilates Instructor based out of the Hunter Valley.

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