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If You Can't Touch Your Toes, Try This Exercise!

Updated: May 9, 2022

I remember back in PE as a kid that once every so often we'd have to do these physical fitness tests that were a part of our grade in the class. To pass you had to be successful in a certain number of these tests that included things like push-ups, sit-ups, running the mile, etc. One of the physical fitness tests we had to do was a flexibility test. If you've done it before, you know that metal box with the sliding ruler that measured how far you were able to reach. If you've never done it, I'll put a picture of it. I know so many people who knew they'd have to do well in the other tests because there was no way they'd pass the flexibility test. Boys/men especially don't typically have the natural gift of flexibility.

Now that I'm older and a physical therapist, I can look back on that time and chuckle because I've learned so many things that I could have applied when I was a kid. One of which is a super simple exercise that can quickly help your flexibility. If only I had this exercise in my back pocket all of those years ago in PE.

Although most of my patients and blog readers probably aren't looking for a way to pass their PE flexibility test, flexibility is something that many still work on and struggle with. Maybe you're struggling to bend over to tie your shoes or you trying to perfect your downward dog in yoga, a little extra flexibility might do you good! Today I'm sharing the one exercise/stretch you'll need to be touching your toes in no time!

The butts-up exercise is great to help a forward fold in yoga but applies to all tasks that require you to bend over like a rag doll. It decompresses your lower back and increases flexibility. This exercise can be beneficial for people with disc compression-like spine degeneration, those with pelvic instability or who require bending for a sport or functional activity. The best part? You don't need any special equipment to do this exercise. All you need is a chair with space to stand.

Start by sitting in a chair toward the edge of the chair. Bend forward and firmly grab your ankles. From here, you'll want to press your feet into the floor and slowly act as though you are standing up while keeping a firm hold on your ankles. At a certain point, you'll feel a pulling/stretch of the back of your legs. You'll slowly work into and out of the stretch by gently bending and straightening your legs. Be sure to keep your head down during this exercise to prevent cramping.

As you do the exercise, you should notice that it becomes easier and easier and you should be able to straighten your legs more and more. After you've done the exercise, you'll slowly walk your hands back up your legs to return to a neutral position.

Hopefully, you've noticed a change in your flexibility after this exercise. Please leave us a comment to let us know how it worked for you and how you were able to use your newfound flexibility.

Remember, we heal smarter, not harder,

Dr. Justin C. Lin

1 Comment

I was ready to give up, and I'm not sure why I went back to therapy, but I'm so glad I did, and I'm so pleased I discovered my doctor via The difference is that I truly believe he cares about me, listens to me, and wants to assist me. One of his recommendations to me is to engage in regular exercise, which may help alleviate sadness and anxiety by releasing feel-good endorphins, natural cannabis-like brain chemicals, and other natural brain chemicals that can improve my sense of well-being.

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