Touch those toes

Can you touch your toes? You can cheat, I know you will anyway. There are several different ways to find those toes. You can put them up on the kitchen counter - one leg at a time of course - or you can leave them on the floor and try to find them. You can try the "sitting in a chair" method and the "sitting on the floor" method. Try them all. Bending your knees doesn't count.

Why are you trying to find your toes? It is a flexibility exercise that no one will ever ask you to demonstrate; however, it is a way to test your "bend-over ability."

You should be able to sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you, about a foot apart, and reach past your toes at least two inches. Shoot for six inches of reach.

If you haven't found your toes in quite a while, try the toe touch while standing and crossing your legs before you bend down. Fold over the belly first, with your head the last to go down. Do the fold slowly. You can cheat by bending your legs a little. Grab your toes and straighten your legs.

Now, two things will help you find those toes: stretched and loosened hamstring muscles and loosened back muscles. Maybe if you stretch them first you will have better luck.

Sit in a chair and extend your leg out in front of you. Bend your leg lightly and grab your toes. Then straighten that leg. The toe touching on the floor leaves the least room for cheating. Sit on the floor with your arms wrapped around your bent knees, chest on the knees and slowly slide your legs out straight.

When your chest leaves your knees you retract and start over until you can get all the way down. Most people will have a tendency to hunch back and push backward when asked to reach for their toes. It is a defeating maneuver.

Finally, lie on the floor and put your feet up over your head and reach for the toes. It isn't any easier in this position. In any of the toe touching tests, your best chance of completing the move is to concentrate on body position, exhaling and folding slowly.

Even in a flexible person, muscles will give slowly and require several stretches before success. Good luck!

• Jerry Vance is owner of The Sweat Shop/Wet Sweat. She offers classes through Carson City Recreation and Aquatics Center and is a fitness instructor for the Senior Center.


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