Some of us spend a bit of time thinking about what is going on with our inner thighs. Probably mostly it’s women who do this, since they may want to stop the annoying jiggle that can show up. Maybe it’s especially apparent during bathing suit season, but it can come to mind any time.
This issue may send some of you to the gym to use the thigh machine, or to start doing leg lifts (think of channeling Jane Fonda).
But your inner thigh deserves more respect than that. It’s not just about the jiggle. Inner thighs are there for all of us (guys too) in ways that are key for our overall health and well-being. “Really?” you might say. “It’s THAT important?” Yup.
About Your Abductors
Here are a few things to consider about your inner thigh muscles, generally called your adductors. There are five of them. I won’t bother you with the names of them, but just know that they come in different shapes and sizes. As a group they basically connect the bottom of your pelvis to your thigh bone so that they can help move your leg in some very useful ways.
ADDUCTION is when your leg is drawn toward and maybe across the midline of your body (lengthwise). So this muscle group does this, but it also does a bunch of other movements, depending on your position (sitting, standing, laying down). Some of the adductors help to externally rotate your hip, can assist with hip extension, and can help you do a wide leg squat. Pretty dynamic!
Another cool thing: Because they are attached to your pelvis, they are also intertwined with some of your abdominal muscles via ligaments and fascia. This system works together to keep your pelvis from twisting or tilting too much as you move. Consider walking. If your adductors are not working very well for you, your legs do not provide a stable, aligned, base for your pelvis. The same is true for the muscles on the outside of your legs, the ABDUCTORS. The result of a weak link in this department can be lower back instability and eventually pain.
Thing is, most of us tend to have abductors (and other muscles on the outside of our legs) that overwork compared to our good old inner thighs. On top of that, as we get older, the inner thigh tends to atrophy because we tend to neglect activities or exercises that keep them strong.
Specific Exercises for Inner Thighs
What to do? Keep active of course. But here are a few specific exercises to keep those inner thighs there for you when you need them.
- Inner thigh raise with a difference. (see graphic) With this one, find a chair that you can place your top leg on when you lay on your side. Legs are straight and your body is aligned in a straight line. Rest the top leg on the seat of the chair. Why? So that it does not have to do any work to stay in the air. That’s because it is probably already stronger than your inner thigh muscles, so we can leave them out of this one. Lift the bottom leg up to meet to top leg, focusing on using your inner thigh muscles to get it there. Do not let the front of back of your legs assist with this. Do a set of 10 of these, and then do another set! Adductors tend to be made of muscles that respond well to more repetitions. You also don’t need to add a ton of weight to these (let’s say you eventually want to use ankle weights).
- Side-lying leg circles. Staying in the same position as above, pick up your bottom leg again, and make 10 circles to the front and then 10 circles to the back. Why? So that you can use more parts of the five muscles and get them working together for you. Since their muscles fibers are aligned all sorts of ways, it’s good to strengthen in many directions.
- Frogs. (see graphic) This one addresses your abdominal muscles as well, and gets that connection with the adductors stronger. Lay on your back. Place of piece of paper or other thin item between your heels. Put your hands behind your head, cradling your neck. Curl forward with your torso and hold that position. If you want something to think about, try keeping your eyes on your naval as you do this. Keeping the paper between your heels, lift your legs off the ground, bend your knees and bring your knees toward your chest. Push the feet back out. Repeat this 10 times, in and out. Take a break with curling your torso. But, bring it back up and do this 10 more times!
Once you are done with these, you will start to appreciate some of the things that your adductors do. So, it’s not just about the jiggle! It truly is about your health and well-being.
© 2017 Kristen Carter. All rights reserved.