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Gymnastics/I'm not flexible at all and can't even touch my toes?!


So I'm 13 and Im not flexible AT ALL!! Here are things I can't do: touch my toes, splits, forward and back rolls, cartwheels, handstands, bridges, etc.The only time I was able to touch my toes and do the splits was when I was 3 years old!! I have tried learning these things before by myself but failed horribly ( I DONT do any gym or dance classes and don't intend to). The only time I did a back roll/flip was a few years ago when I was leaning back on my chair in class, leaned to far back and was about to fall over but did a back roll/flip and stood up again, uninjured. Is it weird or abnormal that I can't do any of these gymnastics like things (not even touch my toes)?? I would like to learn to touch my toes but what exercises should I do to increase my hamstring flexibility? There is about a 6 inch gap between my finger tips and my toes now. Thanks.

Hello Kayla,
         I am very glad to help you.  First, you need to stretch every day to get and maintain flexibility.  You don’t have to do a just need to do it every day.  I can tell you that when you stretch well the muscles get little micro-tears.  The micro-tears will make you sore and then when healed your muscles are a little longer.  You can still stretch when you are sore……you just create a longer warm-up.  The hamstring exercise for stretching that I suggest is to sit in a tuck position (legs bent), grab your feet and slowly straighten your legs until you feel your hamstrings stretch.   Now hold the position for at least 20 seconds.  Perform up to 10 sets.   Also, when you bend forward, try to keep your back straight and try to put your stomach on your legs not your head on your legs.  Keep a journal for validation and motivation.  Finally, the body and its joints are most warmed up by the late afternoon.  I would pick a time that works for you in the late afternoon and make it your stretching time.  I wish you the very best and take care – Jack Leonard


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Jack Leonard


Former 5 time Natl. Tumbling Champ, 3 time Natl. Vaulting Champ, Natl. Floor Exercise Champ; Ass`t coach of Dominique Dawes for 6 years; Owner/Director/Head coach of Kauai Gymnastics Academy on the island of Kauai in Hawaii; Retired Physical Ed teacher; Childrens Fitness Expert; Expert Consultant for gymnastics litigation; Retired Mens & Womens HS Gymnastics coach for 32 years. National coaching honors for Men in 1981 & Women in 2001.


I value the following awards because they were given by acknowlegement through my peers: The Nissen/Grissold Award given to the outstanding Tumbling and Tramp Athlete(1972), National High School coach of the year in 1981 for men and 2001 for women, 10 time County Coach of the Year. Medal Award given at the first World Tumbling Championships in London, England for dedication to the sport. Lastly, having the opportunity to coach Wes Suter(1988 Olympian)in his intermediate years and Dominique Dawes(1992 & 1996)

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