Stand straight and try touching your toes without bending your knees. Failure to do so means your back flexibility is poor and prone to injury. To improve flexibility, practice crocodile breathing, repeated flexion and quadruped knee lifts. These mild exercises will help flex core and lower back muscles. Practice daily till you can touch your toes without warmup.
A simple test to determine your body’s flexibility is a toe touch. If this movement is limited, your back may be at risk for injury. Running out of range of motion during bending motions will cause the body to compensate and/or rely on passive structures for support.
Pre-Test: Standing with your feet together and knees straight, slowly bend down and try to touch your toes. Take note of how it feels and how far down you can touch. Touching your toes is the ideal range of motion. Touching the middle of your lower leg (tibia) is average. And anything above the middle of your lower leg is poor.
Crocodile Breathing (2 minutes)
This exercise will help calm your nervous system, reduce muscle tone, and loosen up your lower back.
Set a timer for 2 minutes and perform this exercise. Make sure to breathe slowly. The exhale should be longer than the inhale. Focus your attention on expanding your low back with each breath.
Repeated Flexion (1 minute)
This exercise provides safe and easy way to increase the range of motion of your back. It will gently stretch the muscles in your low back and hips while providing increased circulation and nutrition to the joints.
Set a timer for 1 minute and perform this exercise. Avoid hold your breath and do not force yourself into an aggressive stretch. It should be gentle and easy.
Quadruped Knee Lift (<1 minute)
This exercise helps to solidify the improved range of motion from the previous exercises by safely activating the core muscles in the flexed position.
Proper breathing sequencing is key for this exercise. Follow the instructions in the video. Make sure to fully exhale before the lift and to maintain a rounded back posture throughout. Perform 4 repetitions.
Re-Test: Perform the toe touch again as above. Take note of the improved range of motion and decreased sensation of stretch.
To maintain this improved motion, perform this series of exercise everyday until you are able to easily touch your toes without any warm-up or exercises. If you have any pain or discomfort during these exercises, stop immediately and see a physical therapist.