If you can’t touch your toes in standing or while sitting, there’s a good chance you have a lack of mobility in your posterior chain. One key aspect that many stretching programs don’t address is what we call “reloading” – it is the active component to your stretching, the part that helps you MAINTAIN the stretch.
Think of it this way – if you haven’t touched your toes in years, your body has written off a portion of the movement as a lost cause. That portion of the movement goes on to get more stiff, then you struggle even more to move there, then it gets stiffer, then you really can’t go there, then it gets stiffer, and stiffer, and stiffer – get the drift? When you make the decision to start re-gaining your range of motion, your body is going to have no clue how to control the new motion. If you don’t learn to control the new movement, your body will tend to revert back to what it knows. This can become the cycle of “I’ve been stretching my hamstrings for 15 years with no improvement” – the stretching isn’t the problem here, its that you’re not teaching your body to move in the new range you acquire with the stretching.
This is why we love the 20/10/10 sequence – spend 20 seconds statically stretching the back of your legs, then do 10 reps of ankle pumps to get the fascia and nerves mobilized along the back of your leg – these two motions will help improve your mobility. The last 10, in my opinion, is the most important – lift your leg off the door jam and hold it up for 10 seconds. As you gain more ROM, you’ll notice the earthquake that ensues as you lift your leg. The shakiness is a lack of coordination because you haven’t been there – don’t worry, stay the course and you’ll start to see things improve quickly.
Here is the video: