Toe touches offer an array of training benefits, including increases in hamstring flexibility, development of hamstring and glute strength, improvements in abdominal strength and as a warm-up activity to prepare your legs for exercise. However, the type of benefit you will receive depends on your body position as you touch your toes. Toe touches can be completed while standing, sitting or lying on the floor, with each offering its own fitness benefit.
Toe touching when performing the hamstring stretch increases the flexibility of your hamstrings, which are a collection of three muscles located at the back of your upper thighs. Sit on the floor with your legs fully extended and slowly bend forward at the waist, reaching toward your toes with your fingers. Hold this stretched position for 20 to 30 seconds. The hamstring strength can be completed multiple times throughout the day. Incorporating regular hamstring stretching into your regimen is important for preventing lower-back pain in those who sit for long hours during the day.
Toe touching in the form of a single-leg deadlift develops strength in your hamstrings and glutes. Stand on one foot with the free leg held off the floor and slightly behind you. Bend forward at the waist and keep your knee straight as you touch your toes with the opposite hand. Your free leg extends back behind you. Your back should be nearly parallel with the floor when you touch your toes. Extend back up to the starting position. To increase the challenge of the exercise, hold a weighted dumbbell in your hand.
Straight Leg Situps
When you lie on your back and touch your toes as in straight leg situps, you develop strength in your abdominal muscles. Lift your legs up so they’re fully extended and pointed toward the ceiling. Crunch up with your arms extended and touch your toes, then lower your shoulders back down to the floor. Toe touches in the form of straight leg situps can be performed three days per week as long as you allow a day of rest in between your abdominal workouts.
Straight Leg Kicks
Toe touches can also be used as a dynamic warm-up activity prior to your workouts. Straight leg kicks increase blood flow to your hamstrings and prepares them for activity. Stand and hold your arms out in front of you. Take a step forward and kick with your free leg so it swings up nearly parallel with the floor. Touch your toes with your hands and then lower your leg back down to the floor. Kick forward with the opposite leg and repeat until you travel 10 to 15 yards.
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