Welcome to my first Wellbeing Wednesday blog post and video!
Can you sit on the floor with your legs outstretched in front of you and, aiming to keep them straight, reach for your toes?
I’m reading a lovely book, Balance Your Hormones, Balance Your Life by Dr Claudia Welch (2011, Lifelong Books). In it, she cites a 2009 University of North Texas and some Japanese universities study, published in Heart and Circulatory Physiology, which found that there’s a correlation between being flexible enough to touch our toes without bending our knees and the flexibility of our arteries.
They found ‘No correlation between artery and body flexibility in people under forty, but there was a clear correlation between people with flexible arteries and flexible bodies in participants older than forty, and stiff arteries correlated with inflexible bodies.’
A 2008 University of Texas at Austin found that people who stretched, ‘could increase the flexibility of their arteries by over 20 percent in just thirteen weeks.’
If you can touch your toes with enough ease, great! Keep stretching.
If not, Dr Welch suggests going to your GP to be tested for risk of heart disease and ‘adding stretching or yoga to our daily or weekly routines. If we can increase flexibility, we may benefit our blood vessels.’
I have been practicing and now teaching yoga for years and especially love calming Forward Folds (see the video below but if you have any concerns about your heart health, do the Seated rather than Standing Forward Fold).
I teach them in a calming way, encouraging students and clients to bend their knees as much as they want in order to make the pose as friendly and relaxing as possible.
Even knowing about the toe test, I’ll continue to teach it in this way as we generally make much more progress by taking little easy steps than potentially injuring ourselves by trying to power through.
Notice whether you need to bend your knees in order to touch your toes but, if so, give yourself a mental hug. Practice it more frequently, noticing what impacts your flexibility (frequency? Warm weather? Mood? Anything else?).
Can you touch your toes with your knees straight?
Have you noticed an improvement in your flexibility since you started practicing yoga or other stretching?
Please comment below – I’d love to hear how you’re getting on.