I'm having a long existencial issue with touching my heel with my butt as part of stretching, I see most people can do it, why can't I? I can't even squat well! I'm afraid of over stretching the ligaments of my knee or something.

I'm 6,0" tall (1,82m) and I don't think that's an issue. I couldn't even do it in my childhood and now since I've started jogging as part of my training for future marathons (a long journey) I'm genuinely afraid to have an injury because of this. Thank you for your time!

  • My left leg has very tight quads based on what I read in your main answer above. I have to put my foot to knee on mattress hold on to a table in front of me and gently sit back ( not very far at present) until I feel quads stretch and hold for 30-60 secs. My right leg quads is not as tight as left leg but still tight. I will do 60 secs morning and evening stretch and see how things are in 4 weeks. – Sandra Aug 18 '18 at 13:53

These are two exercises I like for this purpose:

Toddler Squat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dc3V3f45nOI

I have people hold that position for 30-60 seconds, for either three sets, or have them spread it out during the day.

Harder version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQdPjpP5k8A

It's good to have something nearby to hold on to. Often the person will feel like they're going to fall backwards.

Another exercise: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSSGeymXUgw

You can think of the latter as a horizontal squatting motion. Because resisting gravity and stability isn't a concern, it's easier. It's also a good assessment because of how relaxed the body can be. If after a couple weeks of working on this the person isn't getting anywhere, that's a good sign something structural is going on.

For instance, notice how this guy's lower back rounds when he rocks back:

hip rocking hip flexion range of motion 1 hip rocking hip flexion 2

However, notice once he opens his knees, he now has more range of motion before his lower back rounds:

hip rocking hip flexion range of motion 1 hip flexion better

Image source: b-reddy.org

This is due to how his hips are built. This gets rather anatomically technical, but you can see more details in the following links:

While the above is a discussion on hip flexibility -because that's what I've seen to be the most common limitation- the ability of the ankles to plantarflex (toes point down) has to be considered as well.

Knee wise, the range of motion is usually there. Unless the person has awfully tight quads, or has an injury history where they never regained their flexion range of motion. Not common issues.

Finally, not being able to get all the way is no big deal. Much like not everyone can do a split, not everyone can squat the same either. You want to be careful about forcing range of motion though. You end up jamming bones together, which can cause issues over the longterm. If you feel some tightness while stretching, that's a sign improvement can be made. If you feel a blocking, like you just can't move further, that's likely bone in the way. Pushing that will only make the matter worse. (Bone gets bigger when it gets pushed or banged on sufficiently.)

  • yes yes I do feel tightness. this is the most comprehensive response anyone has ever given to me, thank you very much! I will doing the exercises! by the way, how many months until I see some results? – michaelfOe Aug 16 '17 at 19:37
  • Sorry, just saw this. In terms of modifying how something like the hip rocking feels, you can see results immediately upon changing form. In terms of making changes where new movements become more of a habit, that can take 4-6 weeks (b-reddy.org/2013/08/01/…). In terms of changing bone structure though, that's unlikely to ever happen meaningfully. – Brian Reddy Sep 20 '17 at 20:38

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