For as long as I can remember, I've heard the question "can you touch your toes?" asked by people trying to ascertain another person's physical fitness. I've grown up thinking that being able to touch your toes was a basic ability that every healthy person should have, and that not being able to do it meant that you were in bad shape.
However, I have actually never been able to touch my toes. If I keep my knees locked and bend over I actually can't get the tips of my fingers much closer than 8 inches to my toes. I've been stretching for over a month now in an attempt to remedy this, but aside from a somewhat unpleasant feeling in my lower back and thighs, my efforts haven't seen much results as of yet. And now I'm starting to ask myself, "why is this even important?".
Is it possible that what I thought was common knowledge and/or common sense is completely wrong? Are there people that just can't touch their toes, period, end of story? In short - is it important that I become flexible enough to touch my toes, and if so, why? If this actually is important to my athletic ability and/or physical health, I'll keep at it. But maybe it isn't?
I really appreciate the answers so far, they have been quite informative. However, I'm having a hard time marking any one of them as the official "accepted" answer, because I don't see a direct, definitive answer among them. Ivo Flipse's comment seems to me to be the most direct answer, but I'd really appreciate if someone could provide an answer (preferably linked to a authoritative source) that specifically mentions:
- If the majority of healthy, active people can touch their toes
- How to tell if you have the potential to be able to do this.
- What sort of activities/situations are helped by having this flexibility, or hindered by not having it? If flexibility prevents injuries, what sort of injuries are likely if one doesn't have this flexibility?
Thanks again for everyone's help. If I don't get a better answer in the next few days, I'll accept YYY's answer.