If You’re Not Already Stretching Your Inner Thighs, Here’s Why It’s Important—and How to Do It

Photo: Getty Images/Violeta Stoimenova
Stretching—especially as you get older—is crucial. When you don't do so regularly, your muscles shorten and tighten, which doesn't just affect your mobility, but it also can put you at risk for joint pain, injuries, and muscle damage. Any of which can quickly stop you from being your healthiest, happiest self.

While the back, shoulders, and neck get a lot of attention in stretching routines (hello, must-needed relief from staring at a computer screen all day long!), the inner thighs are often forgotten about. It's not typically an area you would think to target on a regular basis. According to physical therapist Dan Giordano, PT, DPT, CSCS, co-founder of Bespoke Treatments Physical Therapy, that could be a big mistake.

The benefits of stretching your inner thigh area

The simple act of stretching your inner thighs, or adductors, can benefit numerous other areas of your body. "It's important to improve the mobility of your inner thighs—the ability of the joint to actively move through a range of motion—because lack of mobility in the inner thighs may result in poor pelvic positioning, pain at the inner knee, or pain in your lower back," Dr. Giordano says.

Because Dr. Giordano says the adductors work synergistically with your abductors in order to provide pelvic stability, stretching them regularly can also help with stability. "It's important that you follow stretching exercises with strengthening exercises because strengthening the adductors will lead to long-term changes and will help with stability," he says. When your stability is in check, you're better able to prevent injury. Think about it: If you trip, for instance, your body is better able to stabilize itself and prevent you from tumbling over. Who knows—you could save yourself from a sprained ankle, or worse.

Aside from improving your mobility and keeping pain from popping up elsewhere, as well as keeping your body stable, the American Council on Exercise says stretching in general also helps promote circulation to your muscles and joints, reduces any tension in the area, and helps with muscle stiffness. All in all, you can't really go wrong adding some inner thigh stretches—and even some counter-balancing outer thigh stretches—into your daily stretching routine, especially when they only take a few minutes to do.

The best time to stretch your inner thigh area

Some people like to stretch before workouts, and others prefer stretching after. When it comes to your inner thighs, Dr. Giordano advises to dynamically stretch the area—aka "moving through the range of motion with end range pauses"—prior to activity in order to reap the most benefits.

"It improves circulation, preps your muscles for movement, and temporarily increases your range of motion," he says. "Never statically stretch—holding the stretch for prolonged periods such as 30 seconds—prior to activity, as research shows static stretching prior to activity will decrease your force output, decreasing your performance."

If you enjoy the feeling of stretching your muscles post-exercise, Dr. Giordano says to perform your inner thigh stretches with slightly longer holds and to never stretch into painful ranges. You want the stretching you do to be beneficial—not wind up hurting you or making exists problems any worse.

Why it's important to stretch slowly

It's not just stretching your inner thighs that's important—it's how you're stretching them. According to Dr. Giordano, you'll want to make sure you're performing each stretch slowly in order to ensure the process is pain-free, comfortable, as as beneficial as possible.

"It's important to slowly move into the stretch in order for your neurological system to adapt into the range of motion," he says. "Stretching allows our body to tolerate deeper levels of neural discomfort. Slowly move in the stretch, pause, and repeat, each time getting a little deeper and improving your range of motion, which will lead to an improvement in mobility."

How to stretch your inner thigh area

While there are many different stretches, Dr. Giordano has a few he prefers above all others. These options will allow you to stretch your inner thighs safely and provide all the benefits of doing so. Here are his step-by-step instructions on how to do each of the inner thigh stretches properly.

1. Frogger stretch

  1. Start with your knees and forearms on the floor with your knees and feet as wide as possible. Try to keep the inner part of your feet on the floor.
  2. Sit your butt back to your heels, feeling the stretch on your inner thighs.
  3. Pause for three seconds, then rock out of the stretch and back in.
  4. Repeat 10 to 15 times.

2. Kneeling adductor stretch

  1. Start with your knees and hands on the floor.
  2. Straighten out one leg to the side. Try to keep your leg on the floor.
  3. Rock your butt back to the heel of your bent knee, feeling the stretch on the inner thigh of your straight leg.
  4. Pause for three seconds, then rock out of the stretch and back in.
  5. Repeat 10 to 15 times.

3. Half-kneeling adductor dips

  1. Start in a half-kneeling position with one knee on the ground and the other leg bent with your foot on the ground. Move your bent leg out to the side as much as you can. Your foot should be perpendicular to your knee.
  2. With your hands on your hips, dip your body toward your bent leg, feeling the stretch on the inner thigh—especially the side where your knee is on the ground.
  3. Repeat 10 to 15 times.

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