How to Touch Your Toes

Three Methods:Stretching the Relevant MusclesTouching Your Toes while SittingTouching Your Toes while Standing

Touching your toes is a great stretch before any number of cardio-related exercises, and it’s also a great indicator of overall flexibility. With some other stretches leading up to it and regular practice, you will be able to touch your toes in no time.

Method 1
Stretching the Relevant Muscles

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    Stretch your lower back. Many people don’t consider the muscle groups in their lower back when considering flexibility, but you can stretch these muscles to help avoid strains for any number of exercises. The cat-camel stretch is a great way to stretch lower back muscles. Simply get down on all fours and alternate between rounding your back toward the ceiling and pushing your stomach toward the floor while lifting your buttocks.[1] Hold each position for 15-30 seconds at a degree where you feel a nice stretch but no discomfort.[2] The alternating concave and convex postures will help stretch out several of your lower back muscles.
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    Stretch your hips. A great hip flexor exercise consists of getting down on one knee as though you were proposing in a traditional fashion, and then leaning forward to put weight on the front leg to stretch glutes in the lowered leg.[3] You want to hold the position for roughly 30 seconds before switching legs and completing the exercise again.[4]
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    Stretch your hamstrings. Though stretching several muscle groups helps, you are most likely to feel the stretch of touching your toes in your hamstrings. You can easily stretch your hamstrings by laying on the floor next to a wall corner or doorframe and placing the heel of one foot up on the wall before slowly straightening the knee until your feel a good stretch without discomfort.[5] Hold this stretch for 30 seconds before switching to the other leg and repeating.[6]
    • Since stretching your hamstrings is so integral to touching your toes, you may also want to look at some of the other exercises elaborated at How to Stretch Hamstrings.
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    Stretch your calves. Next to your hamstrings, your calves are the second largest muscle group you’ll feel while touching your toes. You can stretch your calves in a similar fashion to the hip flexor stretch, but this time remain stranding and keep the heel of your back foot firmly planted while leaning forward on the opposite foot.[7] You also want to hold this stretch for 30 seconds before switching legs.
    • Make sure you don’t rotate your feet at all, and it may also help to brace against a wall in front of you with your hands.[8]
    • For this and additional methods for stretching your calves, you can consult How to Stretch Your Calves.
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    Stretch your plantar fascia. The above calf stretch is also good for one’s plantar fascia, but in addition to this, you can also stretch these muscles by placing a hard ball such as a lacrosse ball or baseball on the floor under the arch of your foot and rolling it side to side and back and forth with your foot for up to two minutes.[9] You want to place some weight down onto the foot in order to feel the muscles stretch but not enough to cause any discomfort.
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    Touch Your Toes. Once you have warmed up and stretched all of the component muscle groups needed to reach your toes, you should find it much easier to reach them, or at least get closer than you previously were able.

Method 2
Touching Your Toes while Sitting

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    Lay on the floor with your legs straight out and your toes pointing toward the ceiling. Now that you’ve done all of the necessary stretches, you can work on actually reaching those toes. Begin by laying flat on the floor with your toes pointed up.
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    Put your arms straight above your head. This may look as though you’re reaching for the ceiling, but some people find it easier to lower into the stretch with their arms rather than lunge them forward toward their feet.
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    Complete a sit up. Stretch farther forward the way you would at the top of a sit up but without returning to the ground.
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    Touch your toes. Now that you’ve reached the full extension of your stretch, you should be able to touch your toes. However, don’t strain if you can’t. It can take several weeks or more of these various stretches before you can actually reach your toes.
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    Hold for 15-30 Seconds. Hold the position for as long as you can without straining up to 30 seconds. You may also choose to repeat touching your toes multiples times as part of your exercise routine.
    • Always perform the exercise in a controlled, steady fashion and without darting your hands toward your feet because that will only lead to strains.

Method 3
Touching Your Toes while Standing

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    Squat down toward ground. Now that you’ve touched your toes while sitting, try doing it from a standing position, which many people find more difficult. Begin by squatting down. This position will look like a frog-like squat with your knees bent and your back arched.[10]
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    Place your fingers on your toes. Since this method requires starting with your fingers on your toes, then straightening your legs out after, put your fingers on your toes while squatting.
    • Some may find it easier to place their fingers under their toes in order to actually grip their toes instead of touching them alone.
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    Raise your buttocks and straighten your knees. Stand up slowly, but keep your fingers on/under your feet.[11] As you lift, you will especially feel the stretch in your glutes and hamstrings. Try to reach the point where both your legs and back are straight.
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    Hold this position for 15-20 seconds. Hold the position but don’t strain yourself. Additionally, if you can’t quite reach the point where your legs are straight, hold it at a position where you feel a nice stretch without discomfort. The full extension will come in increments with continued attempts.
    • Once you can easily touch your toes, the next step in this stretching exercise is to build up to doing it with your palms flat on the ground just in front of your feet as opposed to simply touching your toes.
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    Repeat it multiple times. As with touching your toes while sitting, you may choose to do this stretch several times over the course of your workout.


  • Warm up each leg separately stretching one leg out at a time then both.
  • Not everyone has the same ratio of arm-to-leg length. Keep in mind that your physiology may make it more difficult for you, so you should try to have patience.
  • Everyone has their own limits, so don’t push yourself too far too fast. The key is to feel the stretch without discomfort and see how that point increases over time.
  • Stretch your body before you try this. Also you can try crunches for abdominal strength.

Article Info

Categories: Warm Ups Stretching and Flexibility