My body is decently flexible in some way; but my hamstrings aren’t one of those ways, it’s been decades since I’ve been able to touch my toes. (At least when standing; I could barely touch the toes on one foot if sitting with only one leg extended.) Which didn’t seem like the greatest thing, and once I started doing Tai Chi and Nei Gong, it felt like something to work on.

Of course, it doesn’t help that I spend lots of time sitting down; my body is just adapting to what I’ve been asking it to do! So the first step is probably to do that less. My watch is happy to let me know when I’ve been sitting down for a full hour; I’d been thinking of that as a reminder that I should get up and walk around (which I mostly ignored, to be honest), but what if I instead think of that as a reminder to try to touch my toes instead? If I do that enough, then presumably my hamstrings will get less tight and I’ll be able to touch my toes.


I did that for several months; I don’t know if it was as long as a year, but I think it might have been. And: it totally did not work! I won’t swear that I didn’t make any progress at all, but, if I did make any progress, it was a really miniscule amount.

Honestly, though, I don’t know that I was taking this idea all that seriously: I wasn’t worrying too much if I was in the middle of something else when my watch told me to stand up, and I also wasn’t proactively stretching during hours in which my watch had already given me credit for standing. So I figured I’d keep going, but I’d take this idea more seriously: after all, if I stretch enough, my body has to get more flexible, right, so I must not have been stretching enough?


I kept on going; maybe things were getting a bit better? But then, one time, I noticed: I’d been mostly paying attention to the tightness behind my knees, but if I relax the area around my butt, sometimes I can get more bend there. Which probably isn’t so relevant if my goal is just to get my hamstring looser, but touching my toes is probably useful for other reasons? Or, even if it’s not actually useful, it’s still something I’d like to be able to do!

After playing around with this a bit more, it turned out to be pretty repeatable. I’d relax a bit and wiggle my butt some, and I’d be able to bend over a noticeable amount more. And if I kept on going, I could usually get a second extra bend. And, once I got to that stage, I could touch my toes!


I played around with how this felt. There’s a line that goes up my legs, over my butt, and up my back; I feel like I’m managing to disconnect from that line to some extent and rotating the rest of my body underneath it. Also, when I bend over enough, the location where I feel tightness the most changes: instead of being behind my knees, it’s more towards the inside of my thighs, fairly high up; not sure what’s going on there. And that higher up tightness is less annoying than tightness behind my knees, so if I bend over more, it actually becomes more pleasant and easier to maintain the stretch.

I can keep going once I reach my toes, too. I can touch the floor; and frequently, I can bend my fingers and make it to around my first knuckle. The bend doesn’t keep on going forever: I can’t put my hands flat or the floor or anything, and honestly my back is still depressingly close to parallel with the floor, so I clearly still have work to do. But, if I go down far enough, I do start to feel like the weight of my head is helping tug at me, and my lower back is opening up a bit; it would certainly be good if I could continue that improvement.


So: yay for pushing on with this, and yay for figuring out something about how my body works. I’m curious if I could have done this years ago, or if the way Nei Gong is affecting the layers of my body is important in letting my body move as I relax and wiggle. So if any of you try this out, let me know how it goes!

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