The other day I ended up getting an email from a reader, and what she sent me was this photo of a person doing a Toe Touch exercise to stretch out their hamstrings.
What she knew was that was a horrible exercise to do that was bad for the back and increased the risk of back pain and back injury. She wanted to know what my take on it was.
I will get Allan to go through it.
In the past my thought whenever I saw it was never to do it.
I’ve kind of modified it a bit and I end up doing the exercise with a modification.
If the reason why you are doing the exercise is to stretch out the hamstrings, there are better exercises that you can do, especially if you have back pain or a history of back pain.
Let me go through and have Allan go through the exercise that Sherry sent me when it related to what she thought was a bad exercise for the back.
Toe Touching Stretch – Wrong Way to do It
What Allan will do is go straight to the toe touch – most of the movement ends up happening in that low back area. What ends up happening is the force ends up being mainly in the low back and the stretch ends up staying in the low back.
If you have low back pain or an old low back injury, you are putting more stress on that area and you are not getting much benefit from it.
Toe Touching Stretch – Right Way to do It
How I end up modifying it is, Allan will demonstrate it, are you bring the chin in then you roll through the mid-back, then you roll through the low back, then you start hinging in the hips so you are moving in the hips.
It ends up becoming more of a hamstring exercise than a low-back crusher.
- bringing in the chin
- then rolling through the mid back
- roll through the low back
- hinging in the hips
- then stretch out the hamstrings
One More Thing to Remember
Also, you saw the speed that Allan went – it was slow and controlled compared to the one before, where the toe touch had a lot of people jump and moved into it quickly, which increases the risk of injury.
There you go, Sherry. Thank you very much for forwarding that to me. Try the 2 different ways of doing it and see how it ends up feeling to you, quickly touching your toes or the modification where you end up going slow and controlled and you start moving into segments: head, mid-back, low back, hip, and then lengthening the hamstrings.
Take care and bye-bye
Rick Kaselj, MS