Whenever I meet someone for the first time we will often go through a little movement screen where I get to know how the person generally moves around. Truly it is just me watching them do the basics; a series of six or so simple movements that are the bare minimum for a good life. These are things that we all deserve to be able to do easily, comfortably, and well.
I often tell the person that this “is going to tell me a little about a lot”.
It is a snapshot of how they “make it happen” on that particular day, in that little blue room.
We look up, we look down, we look side to side.
We see if those arms can reach behind the head and back…and even if those two hands can touch each other when there.
We reach overhead, we turn side to side, we stand on one leg (left and right), we squat as deep as we can, and somewhere in the middle of all of that we see if the person can touch their toes.
Now it is this last part…this touching the toes business…that at times allows me to set the stage for what is to come as we get deeper into the weeds.
You see, touching ones toes is something that plenty of folks struggle with. They cannot get there, and as hard as they may try the situation just does not seem to improve, or even worse…something starts complaining when they lean in. These folks tend to sigh with resignation as I ask them to reach as far to their toes as they comfortably can. They know it is something they “should” be able to do…but for some reason they cannot.
For these folks I often take a moment to reassure them that all is not lost, and that these things can and often do change.
On the other hand, there are folks that are not only able to get to their toes…they are also able to go far beyond…with ease. Palms to the floor, the display what they feel to be a prowess…and quite often with pride.
For these folks I often take a moment to gently let them know that being able to palm the floor is not actually a good thing.
As much as it may surprise some to hear it, just because you can do something does not mean it is going to work out. When it comes to mobility, flexibility, or whatever you want to call it… more is not better.
Now, without a doubt we all need a certain amount of physical freedom for a good life. That said, we also need anchors. What is comes down to, is there exists a Goldilocks amount of flexibility that gives us freedom, without sacrificing leverage.
Fall short of this capacity, and you will lack freedom in your daily life.
Go beyond this capacity, and you will be ungrounded… free floating more than anything else. And just like a car that is hydroplaning, or the crane that has reached beyond its limits…you are bound to go off the road or topple over in a disastrous way.
Well, if you have read this far, I am sure you would like to know what that magical capacity is for touching your toes…
Here it is, as simple as I can state it…
For a good life, you want to be able to just barely touch your middle finger to your big toe…no more, no less.
Now simply getting there is one thing, but how it is done is a whole other.
The good news is there are some pretty durable rules when it comes to that…and this is where we come to that whole touching ones toes “legally” part. This is the manner in which the whole endeavor is going to work out, both in the short term and the long term.
When a movement is done in this way the labor is dispersed, and the load given to the parts that have the leverage to handle it.
So what is the legal way to touch ones toes? How can you know if when you reach your middle finger to your big toe it is done in a way that is durable? That is going to work out in the long run?
It is simple…there are three big things that need to occur for touching your toes to be legal:
- Your feet are flat on the ground, and even weight is dispersed both between them and throughout them.
- The back of your legs are working to hold you up…not stretching…working.
- When you breathe in you feel your upper back expand.
Now, there are a lot of reasons why perhaps someone cannot get to their toes in the manner above, and with that there are a lot of reasons why a person is able to move far beyond where they have leverage as a human being. Despite that, when those reasons are addressed, and the above is achieved, then the person is often times able to tune their bodily instrument to that more ideal place.
If you would like to learn more about those reasons, as well as how to perhaps address them…not to mention a more in depth discussion on the above, and more…then watch the video below.
If you have any questions about the above, please do not hesitate to reach out.
Regardless, I hope you find the above helpful, and I hope you are comfortable, able and well.