How to Touch Your Toes Without Stretching

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 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.

This morning I posted 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.

In this video I show you this technique and explain what it really means about your “tight hamstrings”:

-James Wilson-

The Ultimate MTB Workout Program

The Ultimate MTB Workout ProgramThis workout program is designed with one simple purpose – to be the best mountain bike training program on the planet. When you are ready to take your training program to the highest level possible then you can’t do better than this workout program. Based on my years of working with some of the best riders on the planet, this truly is the Ultimate MTB Workout Program.
Learn More

Social Comments:

WordPress Comments:

  1. Martin says:

    Hi James

    I have had a problem with my lower back for some time. I am told by my fysio, that I have weak lower left side muscle. The problem comes whenever I push hard on the pedals. It doesnt matter if its on the road or on the mountainbike. I feel pain in my lower left side, and my performance is seriously hampered. I have done coretraining during this winter, but I am lacking results. Meanwhile the mtb season is coming soon, and I need to be ready to race 🙂

    In regards to your post with flexibility, I am very flexibel and can easily touch my toes. In generel I do a lot of stretching also. I have tried a lot of things now, so I am open to any ideas. 😀

    Best regards


    Reply • February 22 at 5:50 am
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      Get stronger. When you can do a 1.5-2 X BW deadlift with perfect form then your low back probably won’t hurt so much from riding.

      Reply • February 22 at 10:28 am
  2. Mike says:

    It’s so funny that you would post this today. After doing your exercises for lower back pain for the last 30 days, as well as working on tightening up my form on the Kettlebell Swing, I tried to touch my toes last night. Without thinking about it, my new way of moving from the hips just kicked in, and I was surprised to discover that I could palm the floor. I’ve never been able to do that in my life!

    You also made mention of something in the video about back pain going away with the new way of moving from the hips. In my case, some good things are happening in my lower back. A chronic tight spot just to the right of where the 5th lumbar meets the sacrum, is beginning to loosen up. It started with a few loud cracks and pops, and it was followed by a sweet sense of relief.

    Yes sir, the benefits of mastering movements are far reaching. Thanks for repeatedly stressing this point. I would have never gotten it otherwise.

    Reply • February 22 at 9:32 am
  3. Janet says:

    Thanks, James. That was interesting. Do you know what the equivalent hip flexor relaxation non-stretch would be? My ‘tightness’ is related to the iliopsoas and quad muscles.

    Reply • February 22 at 10:37 am
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      Remember that this is not about loosening up tight muscles, it is about changing how you “bend” and how that impacts your tight areas. If your tight hip flexors are from simple overuse – which is common with cyclists – then you just need to be diligent with the soft tissue work and stretching. Sometimes a tight muscle is really just a tight muscle but sometimes it isn’t and having some objective way like the Functional Movement Screen to tell the difference is the key.

      Reply • February 22 at 10:44 am
      • Janet says:

        My ‘tightness’ isn’t significantly relieved with stretching. I need a way to stop the signals to these overactive muscles. It likely includes turning on my gllutes but not only that as lots of glute work doesn’t seem to stop my glutes from shutting off the minute I stop (or so it seems). I’ve done the FMS three times. While it was interesting, it hasn’t lead to great progress in this matter.

        Reply • February 23 at 12:10 pm
        • bikejames bikejames says:

          Just to clarify, the FMS doesn’t “fix” the problems, it simply shows you where the real weak links lie. At that point it is a matter of using that info to create a program that utilizes correctives specific to your problem area and also scales your strength training exercises to reflect those areas as well. If you did the FMS but got no correctives or advice on how to modify your workouts based on the info then it is no surprise that you have not seen any progress.

          A good corrective exercise will make an immediate impact and you will know for sure that it is making a difference, you shouldn’t have to wait for week to see if you strategy is working. Making a difference isn’t hard but making it stick is a bit harder and that comes with a good program.

          Reply • February 24 at 9:11 am
  4. Sam says:

    Thanks James for the tips. I’m very happy to learn that because I will be able to have more amplitude on my squat ! But on the trails, what will be the result of this improvement ?

    Reply • February 22 at 12:57 pm
  5. HundredDollar says:

    I’m gonna try it when I get home tonight!

    Reply • February 22 at 1:08 pm
  6. John (aka Wish I Were Riding) says:

    What is the purpose of squeezing the form roller between the thighs?

    Reply • February 22 at 2:52 pm
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      It reflexivily activates the core. There is a difference between reflexive stability and “strength” and squeezing the foam roller trains the former while “core training” exercises focus on the latter. You need both and a lot of riders lack the reflexive strength needed to move freely.

      Reply • February 24 at 9:13 am
  7. GT says:

    Your focus on speaking to the importance of mobility has been a great help both on and off the bike. This was a terrific post!

    Reply • May 3 at 8:54 am
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      Thanks! Good to hear that this has helped.

      Reply • May 5 at 9:22 am
  8. Gabriella says:

    Thank you!

    Reply • July 14 at 5:05 pm

Add a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *


Follow MTB Strength Training Systems:
James Wilson
Author and Professional
Mountain Bike Coach
James Wilson