Toe Touches (or Flexion in standing) for the erector spinae and hamstring lengthening is one of the very important and powerful exercises in back pain rehabilitation. In the cases of bulging discs, this exercise is used for gap-opening the backs of the lumbar vertebrae, and creating the room for the lumbar discs to ‘breathe’. Being one of the more ‘vigorous’ techniques, it needs to be a part of specifically designed back rehabilitation program, and initially should be performed under the close supervision of one of our spinal rehabilitation specialists.
The correct way of performing Toe Touches (Flexion in Standing):
- Stand upright with your feet well apart. Allow your hands to hang loosely by your side.
- Suck your tummy muscles in hard so your navel moves in the direction of your spine.
- Bend forward and run your fingers down your legs as far as you can comfortably reach, then pause for 1 -3 seconds for better stretch.
- Brace your tummy and return to the upright standing position.
- Do 5 – 6 repetitions per session.
- Each time you repeat the cycle of movements in this exercise, try to bend down a little farther so that by the last repetition of this exercise within a session you have flexed your back as much as possible and your fingertips are as close as possible to the floor.
You must do only five or six repetitions of Toe Touches per session. Sessions are to be repeated once or twice per day.
Starting from the second week of performing Flexion in Standing, i.e. when you become more comfortable and confident performing it – you may extend the final phase of it by folding your elbows and hanging in this low position for another 5 – 10 seconds allowing a further gentle stretch. Remember to keep your tummy sucked in throughout the entire sequence to avoid any strain to your lower back!
Forward bending exercises like this one should always be followed immediately by back bends, e.g. Cobra.
For 3 months after you have become pain-free, Toe touches should never be performed in the first four hours of your day, as you are more likely to hurt your lower back after it was inactive for the duration of the night and ‘stiffened up’ as a result.
Your own physical condition and diagnosis may require specific modifications or precautions. Before undertaking any course of self-treatment you should consult a doctor or a physiotherapist.