Sailing Fitness Saturday: How to touch your toes and improve flexibility

Hard as it is to believe, occasionally things go wrong in our house. And when they do, I often find myself explaining to everyone in the vicinity that it wasn’t actually my fault. If my wife happens to be in the aforementioned vicinity she will often look at me, breathing heavily and say:

“Nothing is EVER your fault.”

She really gets me, that woman.

The funny thing is, once the problem has been sorted out and everyone has calmed down, I occasionally reflect on what has happened. And sometimes I can see that, actually, perhaps it was a little bit my fault after all. But as it is all in the past, and everyone has calmed down, I generally choose not to mention my epiphany to anyone – it doesn’t seem right to stir up all those ill feelings again.

So I was pretty pleased when, one day whilst attending a Pilates class, my teacher said to me “Damian, get your leg up higher!”, and I told her that I couldn’t – it was as high as I could get it and still keep it straight.

She shook her head (in a manner that seemed to suggest that she was well used to me slacking off) and she grabbed my heel and lifted my leg up.

But it wouldn’t go.

I had (for once) not been slacking off. I’d been telling the truth.

In short, it WASN’T MY FAULT.

It is quite a weird sensation when something really, actually, genuinely isn’t your fault. I quite liked it actually.

“Jeez.” Said my instructor, “You must have really short hamstrings.”

Having short hamstrings has two major downsides, as far as I can tell.

The first is that I have limited flexibility in certain directions, and this can be annoying.

The second is that it doesn’t get you out of anything. You can’t ring work and say you need time off because you’ve got short hamstrings. You can’t get out of doing the washing up because you’ve got short hamstrings. If you’re caught lying on the sofa watching TV you can’t say your short hamstrings were playing up.

None of these things work – I know because I’ve tried them.

So, as I can’t use them as an excuse to get out of doing stuff, I figured I should probably try and do something to alleviate the first of the two downsides. And that’s when I found this quick and simple routine. It helps to slowly and steadily improve flexibility, and as it is very light you can do it any time of the day in any kind of clothing.

There's also this good article on how to improve and lengthen your hamstrings, with a very handy video too:

And I also found the exercise shown here to be a simple, useful stretch to help with hamstring flexibility.

So if you have tight or short hamstrings then hopefully these will help get you sorted.

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