Can you touch your toes?

Can you touch your toes?

Is bending over and touching your toes a good measure of flexibility?

Well, yes and no!

Let’s start with the “yes” first.

Bending forward in either a seated or standing position will definitely give you an idea of how long the back of your body is, including your spine, hamstrings and calves.

It’s very important for the back of your body to have length for function, to minimise postural imbalances and to reduce the risk of either chronic or acute injury.

But having great flexibility involves the entire body, not just the back of it.

You might naturally have length in the back of the body but be tight in the front of your body, especially if you spend a lot of time sitting.

Many people then spend time doing isolated stretching of one part of the body to “even up” their flexibility, for instance doing a "glute" stretch, or calf stretch.

That’s OK, but not ideal. The human body is built for movement and to build function and resilience in it, you need to also stretch through movement.

Poor flexibility can happen for many reasons. Lack of activity, too much sitting, injury, naturally tight muscles or postural imbalances.

The reverse can happen also, with some people naturally having mobility and flexibility that is beyond the functional range of movement and this can lead to issues also.  

The pilates method of exercise is designed to develop flexibility and length in the body by correcting postural imbalances and stretching muscles whilst you are developing strength in them.

This is functional flexibility.

Total body mobility and flexibility whilst developing strength and function, through all of the body, not just one part of it.

And just like any other form of fitness training, flexibility training requires a commitment to a little daily practice and taking a proactive approach. Just fifteen minutes of pilates practice at the beginning or end of the day will go a long way to ensuring a life time of pain free, functional movement.

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