Stand up. Look at your feet and bend down to touch your toes. If you cannot reach, correct the problem by increasing the flexibility of your posterior muscles. The muscles from your neck to your feet all connect via a fascia membrane. This connection makes your muscles work together to provide the flexibility required to reach the once-unobtainable feat of touching your toes. Skipping the smallest muscle group will hinder your flexibility and destroy your chances of feeling your toes with your fingers.
Your calves are hardworking muscles that function constantly when you are walking, running or flexing your feet. Long periods of sitting cause your calf muscles to shrink slightly, becoming stiff and inflexible. When touching your toes, you will feel the pull on your calf muscles. Simply flexing your toes away from the floor while sitting will increase the flexibility of the lower soleus calf muscle, and bending over while standing will increase the flexibility of the upper gastrocnemius muscle.
The three muscles that combine to form your hamstring play a vital role in your ability to touch your toes. Increasing their flexibility gives you more movement across both your knees and your hips. When bending over, you will notice the tension along the back of your legs, and bending the knee will allow you to reach farther than with your knees straight. Increasing hamstring flexibility allows your hips to rotate farther. Combining greater calf and hamstring flexibility makes your legs ready for your toe-touching endeavor.
Glutes and Hips
Glutes are the powerhouse of your body, and the gluteus maximus allows your hip to extend toward your toes. They allow you to walk upright and are the next muscle group that requires flexibility after you stretch your legs. Flexible glutes increase the range of movement in your hip and make the connection between your hamstring and your erector spinae muscles. Not only does stretching your glutes increase flexibility, it will build muscle and tone your butt.
The erector spinae is a collection of muscles from the base of your neck to your tailbone. The muscles maintain your back alignment, and their flexibility is paramount to successfully touching your toes.
Toe flexors reside on the bottom of your feet and do not require stretching to increase their flexibility, but they do need to relax. Relaxing the toe flexors requires massaging the soles of your feet with your hands or a tennis ball. Although this may seem like a small gain, relaxing your toe flexors can increase your flexibility to the point of you reaching your toes.
Lynda Schwartz is a fitness professional who began writing in 2004. She has contributed to "Women's Day" and "Good Housekeeping" magazines, as well as covered fitness and well-being for online publications. Schwartz holds a bachelor's degree in exercise science and health promotion.