Friday, 10 May 2013

Can you touch your toes?

I mentioned is a previous post, albeit with an exclamation mark, that I've long since given up on trying to touch my toes. Let me tell you the whole story and explain why I'm working on regaining the ability to get closer if I can.

Years ago I hurt my back. Can't remember what I did, but it hurt. I even passed out one night from the pain of trying to stand up straight. Nothing structural showed up on x-rays, and to be honest I think the doctors gave up looking for a solution. With rest, exercise and help from a chiropractor things improved, but it took a fairly long time, and I've had bouts of back pain but never as bad.

About 6 years or so later I was in Chicago on a conference and got up one morning and decide to stretch a little. I reached up to the ceiling and down to my toes, and ping, my back pain returned. It was agony, and for the next few days I walked gingerly and took painkillers and did what I could to sort things out. I vowed not to try to touch my toes again!

The problem is, bending is a significant part of daily life. A lack of flexibility can be a real hindrance, more so when it comes to playing sport. And I know I lack flexibility. I can no longer do the kind of deep squat I could do years ago, and I want to try at the very least to stop the slow drift towards being totally inflexible, maybe even reverse it!

Enter Gray Cook. Having done an excellent weekend on dysfunction with  Chris Newton at NLSSM, I bought Cook's book The Athletic Body in Balance. Reading the book opens up a whole new thought process about functional movement and flexibility. Realising that I need to work on my flexibility is not a new realisation, and doing Cook's movement screening was a salutary and sad confirmation that I'm not as balanced and flexible as once I was. My complete failure to be able to do a deep squat, even a fairly shallow one really, suggests it's time to get serious about flexibility. But I don't want to risk my back!
Havg done an excellent weekend on dysfunction with

Progression is therefore key. If you are like me and struggle to reach your toes comfortably, then you need to find your starting point and go from there. In his book, Cook, shows a simple toe-touch progression that starts with your toes elevated by an inch or two. It's a surprisingly interesting and eye-opening exercise to do, and surprise, surprise i can actually touch my toes without having to run to the medicine cabinet and look for ibuprofen and and ice-pack!

So, if you're interested in reading a really good book about movement, balance and conditioning, then have a look at Gray Cook's book. It's even endorsed by Andy Roddick!

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