What Muscles Need Stretching to Touch Toes?

Woman practicing yoga

The beauty of stretching is that you can do it anywhere and you don't need equipment. Touching your toes may seem impossible, but with regular stretching you will become more flexible. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds where you feel a pulling sensation, and repeat one to three times. Your back, hamstrings and calves will gradually lengthen.

Touch Them Sitting or Standing

You can do the toe touch stretch sitting or standing. From a standing position, start with your feet about hip-width apart, or together. Keep your knees straight, but don't lock them out completely. Inhale, and as you exhale slowly roll down reaching your fingers towards your toes. Let your body relax and hold the stretch. Inhale and slowly roll back up to complete the stretch. On the floor sit with your legs straight out in front of you with legs together. Sit tall and inhale to prepare. As you exhale slowly lean forward from the hip and reach your hands toward your toes. You can support your hands on your legs if necessary. Hold the stretch and then inhale as you come back up.

All Along The Spine

You need a flexible spine in order to reach your toes. During a toe touch the erector spinae muscles are elongated in order to curl your spine forward. There are three heads and together these muscles run from the back of your head, down your vertebrae and to your pelvis and low back. They are responsible for extension, lateral flexion and rotation at your low back, mid back and neck.

Oh Those Aching Thighs

Often it is tight hamstrings that will stop you from touching your toes, and they get stretched if you practice reaching for your toes. The hamstrings is a group of three muscles: biceps femoris, semimembranosus and semitendinosus. The biceps femoris has two heads. One originates on the ischium of your pelvis and the other originates on the femur. The semimembranosus and semitendinosus both originate on the ischium as well. These muscles run down the back of your thigh and connect on your lower leg past the knee. They help extend the leg at the hip, bend your knee and are responsible for internal and external rotation of the knee.

Don't Forget Those Calves

The calves, or gastrocnemius, can also limit you touching your toes. The gastrocnemius runs from your femur, past the knee joint and connects below your ankle on your heel, or calcaneus. It assists with bending your knee and is responsible for pointing your toes, or plantar flexion. When you touch your toes your knee is straight and ankle bent so the gastrocnemius is stretched across both joints.