Toe Touches – How to do the First Mobility Screen for Golfers
Toe touches, they seem so simple.
Since toe touches sound like such an easy exercise to most people, I like to start my mobility screen with them.
Toe touches are much less intimating than the other mobility screens, and it puts any anxiety to rest.
Yet, many people can’t reach their touch their toes without rounding their back, bending their knees, or bouncing.
Whether you can or can’t touch your toes, it sets the mobility screen up for success. If you can do the first screen you become more comfortable with the process, if you can’t, well then you realize that you do need some help with your fitness.
In this article, I will explain why toe touches are an important mobility screen, how to do the screen yourself, and I have also included a free Mobility Screening Sheet for you to download so you can track your results as you go through the whole mobility screening process!
This is the first in a series of articles on mobility screens for golfers. I discuss why it is important to test your mobility in Put the Horse in Front of the Cart and Get With the Fitness Program.
Links to all of the mobility screens will be added to that article so you have only one place to go, or you can subscribe to a notification e-mail from that post.
I have written about toes touches before in an article entitled: Can You Touch Your Toes? 4 Simple Mobility Exercises.
In that post, I explain how to collect baseline data so you can see improvement as you do four simple exercises that will help you lengthen your hamstring and calf muscles.
However, I don’t explain why you should go through a mobility screen, or how to do the toe touch test.
Let’s jump into the reasons why a toe touch screen is important.
Toe Touch Objective
The purpose of doing a seemingly simple screen is to test the overall flexibility and mobility of the lower back, hamstrings, and hip joint.
I also like to see how well you are hip hinging and not bending from the waist.
If you can’t touch your toes, there is an additional step to see if the reason is related to hip limitations instead of the hamstrings or lower back.
The toe touch test gives the screener information on your hamstring, hip, calf, and lower back mobility & flexibility.
How to do the Toe Touch Mobility Test
It’s almost as simple as it seems, but there are a couple of points you need to remember while doing the test.
Here is a bulleted list of the key points and I will explain them in more detail below.
- Keep your shoes on, feet together, toes pointing directly forward.
- Place your left hand on top of your right hand so your fingertips are even.
- Bend from the hips and try to touch your fingertips to the top of your shoes without bending your knees or overly rounding your back and shoulders.
- If you can keep your knees straight and not arch your back (some arching is necessary), then you pass the test.
- Mark down a pass on the sheet if you can; and fail if you can’t touch your toes.
Click the button below and download the TMF Mobility Screening Sheet.
If you can’t touch your toes
If you have some problems with the toe touches, don’t worry about it.
Many people can’t, but we need to figure out why.
- Put one foot up on a phone book or a piece of 2 by 4.
- Perform the same test, first with the right leg elevated, then the left leg.
If you can’t touch your toe with either foot raised, mark “Yes” to “both limited” on the Mobility Screening Sheet. Mark “No” if you can touch one or both of your toes with a leg elevated. Then circle “Yes” for the leg that is straight when you touch your toes.
For example, if your right foot is on the phone book and you can touch your left toe with your fingers, then circle “Yes” on the column labeled left on the screening sheet.
Look at the Cover Photo
Using the cover photo as an example, the woman is doing is doing the toe touch test correctly. Her knees are straight, and her back isn’t arched.
The man, on the other hand, has an arched back and is bending from the waist instead of hip hinging. Push your butt back and hinge.
I realize their hands aren’t in the correct position (on top of each other), but it is a good example of how to do the screen correctly (the woman) and incorrectly (the man).
Below is a video that shows how to do the toe touch test.
The video doesn’t show the raised foot part of the test, but you can see it in this video at TPI.
Don’t Do This!
Whatever you do, don’t bounce up and down with your body to touch your toes. You could hurt yourself.
Be sure to keep your knees straight when you do the exercise, try to bend from the hips and not curve your upper back excessively. If you do bounce or bend your knees and mark down that you can touch them, remember, it is only you that it hurts. The purpose of the screen is to find mobility limitations and assign exercises to eliminate the issue.
If you can’t touch your toes, but can touch one of them in the second part of the test, you could have a hip issue. We will need to do more testing to find the best way to help you straighten that out.
Exercises to Help
If you find it hard to touch your toes, there are several exercises that can help. There are four listed in the article I mentioned previously, Can You Touch Your Toes? 4 Simple Mobility Exercises.
I’ve seen people fail at touching their toes, but then after using a roller on their calfs for only 5-minutes they’re able to bend down and touch their toes. Sometimes this limitation can be fixed quickly and easily.
Using either one of these two tools on both the calfs and hamstrings is useful. I use The Stick instead of a foam roller, but I also want to try the Rad Rod at some point. I have heard good things about Rad.
This mobility screen is easy, isn’t it?
Well, there are quite a few more, and they do get more complicated.
The toe touch screen is the first of sixteen.
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Copyright: dolgachov / 123RF Stock Photo