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How to Touch Your Toes Without Stretching

Apr 26, 2013
by James Wilson  
In this video I show you this technique and explain what it really means about your “tight hamstrings”:
Views: 30,705    Faves: 100    Comments: 4

Can you touch your toes? If so, can you do it while maintaining a relatively straight lower back? If you are like a lot of riders I have met the answer to this questions is “no” and if you are among them this may be one of the most important videos you ever watch.

A lot of people mistake their inability to touch their toes as a lack of hamstring flexibility, but despite stretching the hamstrings few people see any real progress. The reason for this is because of a faulty movement pattern is causing the hamstrings to tighten up and, if left unaddressed, will always cause them to tighten up no matter how much you stretch.

Here is a video demonstrating a “trick” I learned from Gray Cook with Functional Movement Systems to help someone touch their toes without any stretching. In less than 5 minutes I have seen this technique add 6-8 inches range of motion, allowing people to touch their toes for the first time in years.

MTB Strength Training Systems is the world leader in integrated performance training programs for the unique demands of mountain biking. As the strength and conditioning coach for World Cup Teams and 3 National Championships, his programs have been proven at the highest levels. James has helped thousands of riders just like you improve their speed, endurance and skills on the trail. Visit www.bikejames.com to sign up for the free Trail Rider Fundamentals Video Mini-Course.

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Member since Feb 3, 2009
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  • 150 5
 This technique adds 6-8 inches. Where do I sign.
  • 32 3
 No pills, no surgery
  • 27 3
 Just bend your knees... Easy.
  • 2 35
flag peschman (Apr 26, 2013 at 2:30) (Below Threshold)
 his knees are bent when he does it..... what a cheat
  • 14 1
 I thought, "make me a better rider", great, but sadly it didn't work. I defy anyone to touch their toes whilst riding without falling off, I couldn't manage it.
  • 3 0
 I hope you mean anyone but Danny Macaskill...
  • 11 0
 how to touch your toes without stretching?....surely 'not be a fat bastard' is the answer to that
  • 10 1
 I resent that. I'm a fat bastard and I can easily touch my toes without stretching.
  • 3 0
 I'm a skinny fuck and I can't even get close even with this tip.
  • 18 9
 "most important videos i'll ever watch" and "touch your toes" in the same paragraph! Thanks you've cheered me up this morning!
  • 166 8
 Every time James Wilson post an article on this website, tons of silly comments appears within few minutes to make fun of the content of these articles. The truth is that James is very competent in what he does and everyone on Pinkbike should try to learn a few things from him, for tons of different reasons: Ride better, faster, safer, better recovery, extend your riding life, and so on.

It's sad to see that most of the people here seem more interested into the new TLD D3 helmet colors than good (and FREE) tips to improve their fitness, techniques, habits, blablabla...

If you don't give a shit about it, at least show a bit of respect for the man.
  • 10 3
 totally nailed it with that.
  • 28 4
 sadly this website is infested with Pinkchildren. great vid, great info. the Pinkchildren can carry on eating their Cocopops and dribbling down their tshirt while the adults get informed
  • 5 0
 Totally agree with t1000 and gnarbar ... having suffered of heavy back pain for a long time e say these videos are state of the art ... i think it's way better to ride more than sitting in pain and watch how good your new D3 is ... And yes ... respect comes first ... !!!
  • 3 1
 right on t1000. the thing is most comments come from the young'uns, and these videos are extremely helpful...for those of us over 30 Smile
  • 2 0
 Gnarbar... must i point out that your name is gnarbar, apparently you're from "gnarnia", and your pic says "get loose like your mom". You know. Just sayin'.
  • 1 0
 get loose, without dribbling.....
  • 3 0
lol That's probably the best way to describe em, yes.
  • 3 0
 Don't mind the pinkkids. Eventually they too will age, crash, get hurt and be forced to listen to the wisdom of trainers like James to get their health back. It's the cycle of life Smile
  • 10 0
 It doesn't work because my brain says " stop that shit, go have a beer and eat something with bacon!"
  • 10 0
 I don't have a foam roller. Tried using a cat. Now i can't touch my toes and I'm bleeding.
  • 8 2
 Betting someone in the bar on whether or not they can touch their toes... I see two situations arising out of this.

1) To a girl: She slaps you for being perverted assuming you're trying to look at her ass
2) to a guy: He awkwardly comments that he is not gay and walks off feeling very uncomfortable.
  • 7 0
 Or he knocks you out
  • 4 0
 Thanks for another interesting video James! Just a quick question - do you think it's best to do these sorts of exercises barefoot, or does it not make much difference? Cheers!
  • 2 7
flag Wesselized (Apr 26, 2013 at 7:58) (Below Threshold)
 I think barefoot is the best tbh. Seeing that marathon runners who switched to barefoot running all of a sudden have a lot less back and leg injuries. Guess shoes don't really support us the way we would like them to,
  • 7 1
 I can almost, but my GF can and i like it
  • 2 0
 Good news and bad news, good news is that I can touch my toes with this technique, great job, bad news I can't ride my bike because my back hurts so much, so there is your balance for today.
  • 3 2
 lol silly redneck. perhaps take it easy and develop it over few days instead forcing hard on first try..
  • 1 0
 I appreciate these kinds of tips, but in reality he is still "cheating" too. There are a number of muscles that can prevent you from bending forward and touching toes. Tight: gastrocnemius/soleus (calf)- one attaches above the knee (gastroc) and soleus does NOT cross the knee. Therefore if you unlock your knee, you unlock your calf and your bend increases. In his video- James showed me that he still has a tight calf muscle because the middle of his hip shifted backwards past the ankle (which should stay in a vertical line ideally). Same thing with the hamstrings (which cross the knee AND hip)- unlock and increase forward bend. Same thing with the gluteals, spinal erectors, etc.
Then conversely- if one (or more) structures are tight, there's realistically one or more STRETCHED out structures that need shortened (strengthened) so it can hold proper balance- an idea called tensegrity.
Not knocking this post, just elaborating........
  • 1 0
 I completely agree about patterning your movement as well. We have to re-write old "motor programs" by consistently moving differently until your body changes its old "set pattern."
I often times have somebody hold a stick, golf club, broom, etc along their back to have something to "feel" when their back starts to round.....
The best Hammy/calf stretch that also helps your back out is sitting in a chair with your butt all the way back, spine tall with both hands fingers monitoring the low back. Keep good spinal alignment, then slowly start to straighten your knee. Stop if your low back starts to slump (why your fingers are there), then pull your ankle back to increase the calf/HS stretch. Hold 5-10 sec. Repeat 10x, 2-3x/day. It takes 4-6 weeks for muscle length changes to occur, but happens. Most people have "tight" hammies from sitting all day with the knees bent for a long time (years of sustained posture), and repetitive stresses (biking).
  • 1 0
 Until you have active flexibility (mobility) it is always good do it. But if you used to stretch with passive flexibility you will loose the ability to controll all of your moves, and you will have more injuries than ever you had. And i believe (and i know) the best way to strectch out the lower back and harmstrings is to do a ton of hanging leg lifts to your maximum (ideal case is your head with fully straight legs and pointed toes), L sits / V Sits on paralletties, also can help a lot if you do handstand press from straddle and pike. I used to do gymnastics for a while and we do this mostly with active flexibility.
  • 1 0
 I've been deadlifting heavy for the last 2 years and have always had to stretch the f*ck out of my hamstrings to allow me to take a good/safe DL position. Stretching your hammies before a heavy DL is not good for the muscle belly so I was stalling like crazy. This has totally transformed my DL. Thanks James.
  • 3 0
 All I do is spin around three or four times fast and then I can touch my toes. Try it. It's magic! tup
  • 1 0
 I like all of these videos. The one about body posture while riding has improved my riding a ton! Didn't even realize I had bad posture until I saw the video. Keep up the awesome videos!
  • 2 0
 Far from a rambling tip James... excellent advice as ever and superbly explained too!
  • 2 0
 I touched my toes for the first time in about 5 years. I've always been very inflexible. Pretty cool trick.
  • 3 1
 How to touch toes without stretching = sit down, lean forward, touch toes.

Lateral thinking
  • 2 1
 Seems like a proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation technique to overcome the stretch reflex in your hamstrings. Can't wait to try it!
  • 3 1
 Did I miss something? Did he at any point explain why it's so important to be able to touch your toes?
  • 1 0
 Thanks James, I have lower back issues that keep me from enjoying riding as much as I want to. This should help as I have been curling my back to touch my toes.
  • 1 0
 If you really want to improve your elasticity, practice PILATES Method. Awesome results.
  • 3 2
 Well... thanks ^^ that helps alot actually. Amazing how our body works and that you still can learn so much about it.
  • 3 0
 it works! lol
  • 2 0
 you sacrifice flexibility when you tack on mass
  • 2 0
 Interesting - thanks James. Screw the haters.
  • 2 1
 Some one stole my foam roller out of the garden the other day, how am I supposed to touch my toes now?
  • 3 0
 Squeeze a garden gnome between your legs
  • 1 0
 Great video! I have been incorporating a lot of your tips in my off season training!
  • 1 0
 Thanks,I also like the joke
  • 1 0
 thanks, it works for me! :p
  • 1 0
 I like a tip like that. More of the same James Smile Live To Ride
  • 1 0
 I can about 6 inches from my toes,is that rigor mortis setting in
  • 1 0
 Reach, squeeze...
  • 3 4
 did they teach you this in prison?
  • 2 5
 "how to touch your toes without stretching" bend knees?
  • 4 0
 pinkbikers are a bunch of miserable bastards.
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