Flexibility is somewhat of a black sheep when it comes to exercise.
In most gyms, you’ll see tons of people hitting their cardio goals. Likewise, you’ll witness lots of gymgoers lifting weights and performing other strengthening exercises.
But you’ll rarely see people devoting much energy to their flexibility training.
Being inflexible is a big problem. It can put you at risk for a variety of issues, one major issue being the increased possibility of tearing a muscle.
In this article, I’ll review some of the top exercises and stretches you should include in your routine to keep yourself limber. Plus, these moves can help you address key issues that may be preventing you from touching your toes when you stretch out your hamstrings.
1. Supine Hamstring Stretch
One of the major issues that prevent people from touching their toes is tight hamstrings. The hamstrings are a group of three muscles that run down the back of the leg. When these muscles are tight, they make it very difficult for you to touch your toes or perform any movements that cause them to stretch.
For this reason, performing them on your back works wonders!
How to Perform
- Lie on your back, with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
- Straighten out your right leg and, with the help of your hands under your right thigh, pull your leg toward your chest.
- Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 4 times per session, 1-2 times per day.
Romanian deadlifts, or RDLs are primarily seen as a strengthening exercise. However, this move also puts stretch through your hamstrings and hips. By simultaneously strengthening your weak muscles and stretching the tight ones, you can kill two birds with one stone!
How to Perform
- Hold one dumbbell in each hand (or use a different heavy object, or perform without weight).
- Keeping your knees slightly bent the whole time, bend forward at your waist until the dumbbells are just below your knees.
- Stand back up to complete the rep.
- Perform 10-12 reps per set, 3-4 times per week.
3. Hip Flexor Stretch
In some cases, your mobility might be limited by your hip flexor group. These muscles are found on the front of your hip, and they are chronically tight on many people. This is especially true for students and office workers who sit all day long.
How to Perform
- Kneel on the floor, with your left foot on the ground and your right knee a few inches behind it.
- Scoot your left foot forward as far as you can, keeping your knee bent to about 90 degrees.
- Lean forward with your trunk.
- You’ll feel a deep stretch in your right hip flexor.
- Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 4 times per side, per session, 1-2 times per day.
Tight, weak muscles can prevent you from performing many different movements, such as touching your toes. By completing regular stretching and strengthening exercises, you’ll be well on your way to improving your health.
If you are looking for a good routine for accomplishing this goal, the above three exercises are a good place to start. When you’re ready to progress, try increasing your hold time by a few seconds each time, adding weight, adding sets, or progressing the exercises in some fashion.
What do you have to lose? Talk to your doctor to make sure exercise is safe for you and try this routine out today!
- Alshammari F, Alzoghbieh E, Abu Kabar M, Hawamdeh M. A novel approach to improve hamstring flexibility: A single-blinded randomised clinical trial. S Afr J Physiother. 2019 Apr 23;75(1):465. doi: 10.4102/sajp.v75i1.465. PMID: 31061909; PMCID: PMC6495003.